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HIV status disclosure

Disclosure means telling the people in your life that you are HIV positive

While It isn’t mandatory or necessary to disclose to family, friends, co-workers or employers (except for direct care fields such as nursing, dentistry etc.) it is extremely important that disclose your status with sexual and drug partners.

Disclosure can improve your overall health and well-being, as telling trusted individuals (family, friends etc.) can provide mental and emotional support, as well as improve your access to proper care and treatment. It is extremely important to disclose to people you choose to be sexually intimate with, not only for their health and safety but for your own protection. There have been a number of legal cases made against HIV positive individuals who have not disclosed to sex or drug partners.

There is no perfect suggestion for how or when you should let people know; disclosure is difficult no matter how many times you do it. Some people find it easier to disclose their HIV status to people immediately and others may wait until a relationship has been built. Ultimately, the manner in which you choose to disclose has to be most comfortable for you.

HIV Disclosure and the Law

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, all persons living with HIV are legally obligated to disclose their HIV status before engaging in any behaviours that may put another person at significant risk of serious bodily harm. Placing someone else in significant risk does not mean that the other person must become infected before charges can be laid; it is enough that the other person was at risk of HIV infection. If you are unsure of your HIV status, but think there may be a possibility you may be infected, then it is your legal obligation to disclose this before having unprotected sex.

Common examples of risk situations that could result in charges are: having unprotected anal or vaginal sex or haring injection equipment (needles, syringes, cookers, filters, and other works) that may contain HIV-infected blood. Persons found to be guilty of posing significant risk of serious bodily harm can be charged with aggravated assault, common nuisance, or both. Term of imprisonment for these charges can range from two to 14 years.

Low risk activities such as oral sex without a condom, and full sex with a condom are still unclear around HIV disclosure, and therefore there may be potential for legal consequences in some cases.

Negligible and no-risk activities such as kissing cuddling, mutual masturbation, finger fucking, and blowjobs with a condom do not require HIV disclosure.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network


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