Published November, 2010

Criminals and Victims? The Impact of the Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure on African, Caribbean and Black Communities in Ontario, Akim Adé Larcher and Alison Symington, The African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (2010)

This paper examines the impact of the growing use of HIV criminalization laws on African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities in Ontario. In an analysis that may be useful for advocates in other jurisdictions, this document addresses the intersections between existing race-based oppression and laws criminalizing HIV, ultimately recommending that policymakers address the racialization of the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure.

In Canada, members of ACB communities make up about 2.5% of the population, the majority of which are located in Quebec, Ontario. Though a small population, they are vastly overrepresented among HIV infections, and prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure. Of the men charged with HIV exposure since 2004, 16 were white, 14 Black, 2 Aboriginal, 2 Asian/South Asian, and 8 of unknown race. From 1998 to 2004 about 48% of people charged under HIV criminalization laws were Black.

This paper begins with an overview discussion of the ACB communities in Ontario, including how immigration shapes the communities, the unique vulnerabilities to HIV among members of these communities, and the individual and community relationships associated with HIV disclosure. The paper then examines the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure in Ontario, placing the discussion within the context of race and the criminal justice system in Canada. Next, it explores how the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure affects people with HIV in the ACB communities and ACB communities more broadly.

The report then critiques media coverage of HIV non-disclosure cases and the messages about ACB people produced through reporting. Finally, the report presents specific recommended actions geared toward a variety of stakeholders to address the racialization of the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure in Ontario, with the hope of improving the overall health and quality of life of ACB communities in Ontario.