Criminalizing HIV May Discourage Testing, Discussion, And Using Protection

Researchers in Canada found that high-profile prosecutions related to HIV nondisclosure can discourage some individuals from getting tested for HIV (17 percent) or discussing sexual practices with nurses and physicians (13.8 percent). This same group reported higher rates of unprotected penetrative anal intercourse and internal ejaculation with, on average, a higher number of different sexual partners. They also preferred anonymous HIV testing, which prevents public health officials from helping them contact past sexual partners if they test positive. Laws that prosecute individuals who don’t disclose their HIV status are supposed to help protect against the spread, but instead it may well be contributing to the virus’ spread by encouraging individuals to ignore their status so they have plausible deniability.