Another HIV nondisclosure prosecution from Canada:
Steve Biron, 32, faces charges of aggravated assault and aggravated sexual assault against one alleged victim, but the Crown could lay more charges in a case that has Quebec City's gay community on edge.[...]
Biron is alleged to have perused gay dating sites under the pseudonym bbackbottom31, meeting men and then having unprotected sex with them in his apartment. He was arrested after the first alleged victim found out about Biron's HIV status after bumping into him at a local hospital.
The article doesn't say whether any of the people who had sex with Biron seroconverted because they had sex with him, although that's not important to these prosecutions. I'm trying to think of a parallel from the realm of traditional assault, where someone could punch someone else in the face and the other person only consents to and enjoys it, but that simply makes no sense.
The strange thing, though, is how the people who had sex with Biron are referred to as "victims," when they're all people who sought out someone who goes by "bbackbottom31" on the internet for sex and consensually barebacked with him. Are they surprised that he's HIV-positive? If they are, doesn't that say more about HIV education in Quebec than it does about any of the people involved?
And if they did seroconvert recently, how do they know it was Biron's fault, what with them all being comfortable with having sex with barebackers online?
The rule for hook-ups should be to assume that the other person is poz and take the necessary precautions. And the guy who's online and only barebacks with people is probably the last person to bareback with. If Biron was looking to bareback with people he didn't know, it doesn't matter whether he knew his serostatus or not. His level of risk was very high anyway.
That information (and probably more) about his lifestyle was available to everyone he had sex with, so it's hard to imagine how anyone could be surprised here. Moreover, are these guys who seek out other men who bareback for sex getting tested? They must top without condoms at least every now and then, so who knows how many people they've put at risk. Do they know their status? Will they now stop fucking men bareback, or will they just avoid getting tested?
Which is always the fundamental problem with these prosecutions: does the fact that the "assailant" has been tested for HIV change the nature of act for the worse? According to the way the law is being applied, it sure seems like it. They're prosecuting men who've tested positive for having sex without disclosing, while ignoring the multitudes of other risks associated with sex, including all the sources of risk from seeking someone to have sex with and what these people specifically did, putting the spotlight on three things: getting tested, having any form of sex, and not disclosing. Disclosing's hard and people aren't going to stop having sex (although they could be encouraged to reduce risk, but these prosecutions are rarely that nuanced), so it's the first one that people will use to get around these laws.
Since we don't know the serostatus of the "victims" here, it's entirely possible that one of them was HIV-positive and didn't disclose that fact to Biron. If he did it because he didn't know his status, then the prosecution is going the way it is specifically because of testing. If someone else who had sex with Biron did know he was poz, then the government decides whom to prosecute based on who tells on the other first?
Considering there's strong evidence that knowing one's status makes one less likely to have unprotected sex and no evidence that HIV-nondisclosure laws do anything to stymie the spread of HIV, it's counterproductive to put testing at the center of prosecutions.
Anyway, the last thing the government should be promoting is the "If he had HIV, he'd tell me" mentality that is far too prevalent and only reified through publicized prosecutions that turn the HIV epidemic into the story of a few bad apples going around spreading it and if they could just be arrested....
It takes two people to spread the virus and an entire population to turn it into an epidemic. The problem isn't a few bad apples.
One more thing: does the government think that putting someone who goes by "bbackbottom31" in prison is going to reduce violence, sexual violence, and the amount of sex Biron is having?