That is, as long as they wear a condom and only have a low level of the virus.
In a landmark ruling, The Supreme Court of Canada declared that HIV carriers that fit these two specific conditions are no longer legally obligated to tell all. In the past, a charge of aggravated sexual assault with a maximum life sentence may have been charged for keeping the virus a secret from sexual partners.
The Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ arguments that all carriers must divulge their condition so that their sexual partners can make an informed decision regardless of the amount of risk involved. Medical advances in the drugs developed to treat the virus were mentioned as the key reason for the 9-0 vote. Likely, this came after HIV/AIDS activists argued that a previous 1998 ruling on the subject making it illegal in all cases was ripe with confusion and was being applied unevenly when medical advances weren’t being considered among individual cases.
No specific virus load amount was stated as being “low enough” to keep mum on the condition, but the number of HIV copies per milliliter after anti-retroviral treatment was noted as being scientifically acceptable. This level is approximately 1,500 copies per milliliter but can even shrink to a number as low as 50 copies/ml, which is undetectable after a long period of treatment. Milliliters of blood for untreated individuals can reach 10,000 to millions of copies.
Two specific cases were considered during the ruling. The first involved a Winnipeg man who had intercourse with nine women in a year of being diagnosed, without informing them of the virus. He had a low virus load, and in some instances, used a condom. His conviction was overturned in those cases where he used a condom but upheld in the cases where no protection was used. None of the women were infected.
A Quebec soccer mom who had intercourse with a man she met at one of her son’s soccer matches was the second case considered. She was diagnosed with HIV nine years before and was on anti-retroviral drugs which made her viral load undetectable. Because the prosecution couldn’t prove that no condom was used, her conviction of sexual assault and aggravated assault was overturned. The man was never infected.
Victory for us all? Or only for the carriers?