The Ontarion

Supreme Court HIV ruling promotes responsibility

This article is in response to Laura Chown’s article, “Supreme Court HIV ruling promotes stigma.”

The Supreme Court ruled the following in R. v. Mabior: that an individual would not have to disclose HIV status, provided the following two conditions are met: (1) a low viral load of HIV, and (2) use of a condom.

Chown argues that the Supreme Court was wrong in applying the two-part test. For her, if either one of the two parts of the test are met, there should be no requirement for disclosure. Consistent with the views of the HIV/AIDS Legal Network, she states that the ruling promotes “stigma” and places an extra burden on those living with HIV.

The topic of consent is strongly promoted on campus. To be able to enter a contractual decision with another person, one needs to have all the facts to make a rational decision weighing costs and benefits. Chown further states that, “Condom use, regardless of viral load, is close to 100 per cent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV when used properly.” This is incorrect. The number is closer to 80 per cent.

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The Prince Arthur Herald

The Supreme Court was right on HIV and consent

The Supreme Court of Canada recently issued a ruling in R. v. Mabior clarifying the requirement for people with HIV to disclose their status to sexual partners. If the accused has: (1) a low viral load, and (2) uses a condom, there is no realistic possibility of transmission. As a result, the Court ruled, there is no requirement to disclose HIV status to a partner if these two conditions are met. The ruling builds upon a previous judgment in R. v. Cuerrier, where the majority held that failure to disclose that one has HIV may “vitiate” (negate) consent to sex and can make one liable to be charged with aggravated sexual assault.

The Cuerrier test was based on the following two elements: that (1) a “dishonest act” must occur, which includes lying or failing to disclose HIV status; and (2) the complainant must be deprived of knowledge which would have caused him or her to refuse sexual relations that resulted in exposure to a significant risk of bodily harm. Opponents of Cuerrier argue that the test is both uncertain and it overextends the criminal law. The Court in Mabior recognized that Cuerrier gives rise to uncertainty over what constitutes “significant risk” and what constitutes “bodily harm.”

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