AIDS rights group says criminal justice system has ‘HIV phobia’

A national AIDS rights group is upset by a Manitoba court case where an HIV-infected woman has been convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

Winnipeg woman convicted of sexual assault for infecting man with HIV

A Winnipeg woman has been convicted of aggravated sexual assault for not telling her sex partner she is HIV-positive.

A national AIDS rights group is upset by a Manitoba court case where an HIV-infected woman has been convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

A jury found 27-year-old Marjorie Schenkels did not tell her sex partner she had HIV.

He later became infected.

Richard Elliott is the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. He calls this conviction and ones like it a troubling pattern.

"We see this zealous over-prosecution and over-extension of the criminal law in many circumstances to deal with cases of alleged non-disclosure of HIV status," said Elliot.

Elliott says people aren't prosecuted for non-disclosure of other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and syphilis.

He says the criminal justice system has HIV phobia.

“These cases of HIV non-disclosure are really not what the law of sexual assault is intended to deal with, and we've really been seeing a twisting of the law of sexual assault," he said.

While the case is the first of its kind in Manitoba, Elliott says 170 HIV-positive Canadians have been sentenced to jail time for not telling their partners they were infected.

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