A Quebec woman living with AIDS has been given a one-year sentence, to be served in the community, for hiding her HIV status from her former boyfriend.
Quebec Judge Marc Bison handed down the sentence on Tuesday, after the woman was found guilty of aggravated assault against her ex-boyfriend for failing to tell him she was HIV-positive when the two started courting.
The woman acted irresponsibly and committed a serious crime by depriving her ex-lover of the right to decide whether he wanted to have sex with her despite her status, Bison said at the Longueuil courthouse.
Anyone with a condition as serious as HIV has a legal duty to inform his or her partner, because the virus is not like a common cold, he said.
The sentence would normally be served in prison, but because of her fragile health, she will serve it in the community, the judge said. The woman is in a treatment centre waiting for experimental drugs.
A publication ban in the case prevents the man and woman from being named, but they can be identified by their initials.
When the couple first started dating in 2000, D.C testified she initially withheld her HIV status from J.L.P., but after three months told him she was infected, the court was told.
J.L.P. decided to stay in the relationship. D.C. testified in court they used condoms from the beginning of the relationship, but the court determined the couple had unprotected sex at least one time.
HIV complaint made after assault charge laid
The couple broke up five years later, after the man was charged with assault following the woman's complaints of domestic abuse.
While his case was pending, J.L.P. alerted police about D.C.'s failure to disclose her HIV status, and she was charged with aggravated assault. J.L.P. was never infected with the virus.
This winter, the Quebec court found J.L.P. guilty of assaulting D.C. and her 18-year old son, but was eventually given an absolute discharge with no criminal record.
The Quebec Coalition of AIDS organizations was disappointed by the case's outcome.
The onus was on J.L.P. to protect himself and practise safe sex, said spokesman Ken Monteith.
The situation would have been different if D.C. had repeatedly had unprotected sex with J.L.P. without telling him, he said.
D.C. has been HIV positive since 1991. She contracted the human immunodeficiency virus from her ex-husband.