Who? What? Where? When? And with What Consequences? An Analysis of Criminal Cases of HIV Non-Disclosure in Canada
Canadian Journal of Law and Society. 27(1):31-53.
24 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 18, 2012
The use of criminal-law powers to respond to people with HIV who place others at risk of HIV infection has emerged as a focal point of AIDS advocacy at global, national, and local levels. In the Canadian context, reform efforts that address the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure have been hampered by the absence of data on the contours, scale, and outcomes of criminalization. This article responds to that gap in knowledge with the first comprehensive analysis of the temporal trends, demographic patterns, and aggregate outcomes of Canadian criminal cases of HIV non-disclosure. The authors draw on insights into the role that rendering social phenomena in numerical terms plays for the governance of social life in order to make criminalization “visible” in ways that might contribute to activist responses. The article examines temporal trends, demographic patterns, and outcomes separately. In each instance, the pattern or trend identified is described, potential explanations for findings are offered, and an account is given of how the data have informed efforts to reform criminal law. Particular attention is paid to the following key findings: a sharp increase in criminal cases that began in 2004; the large proportion of recent criminal cases involving defendants who are heterosexual Black, African, and Caribbean men; and the high proportion of criminal cases resulting in conviction. The article closes with suggestions for future research.
Keywords: HIV non-disclosure, criminal law, Canada, trends, patterns
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