Does a person infected with the HIV virus have to tell a partner about it before they have sex? It depends on the situation.
A person must tell a sexual partner about the condition only if there is a realistic possibility of transmission of HIV to the partner.
If there’s no realistic possibility of transmission, then an HIV-positive person does have to reveal it.
In a 2012 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that there’s no realistic possibility of transmission if the amount of virus in the body is low and the partners use a condom. The person living with HIV therefore isn’t required to reveal the condition in this situation.
More recently, the Institut national de la santé publique du Québec (public health institute) stated that even without condom use, there’s no realistic possibility of transmitting HIV if
- the amount of virus in the body is very low (less than 200 copies per millilitre of blood),
- the person is receiving antiretroviral therapy.
Consequences of not disclosing HIV status
A person who has an obligation to disclose HIV status to a sexual partner, but doesn’t, could face charges of assault or aggravated sexual assault. It must be proved that the partner would have refused to have sex if they had known about the situation.
These criminal charges are possible even if the sexual partner didn’t become infected.