‘ … They should understand why … ' The knowledge, attitudes and impact of the HIV criminalisation law on a sample of HIV+ women living in Ontario
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Over 60 countries criminalise 'the "willful" transmission of HIV'. Such a law has the potential to hinder public health interventions. There is limited literature discussing the perceptions of this law and the impact, it has had on HIV-positive women. This paper describes the knowledge of and attitudes of this law by HIV-positive women living in Ontario; and their experiences with its application. Three group discussions (n = 10) and 17 in-depth interviews with HIV-positive women age: 21-56 years. Data were analysed using a modified thematic approach. Most of the respondents knew about the law with regard to adult HIV transmission. However, very few knew about any laws related to mother to child HIV transmission, although some reported having had their children taken away because of breastfeeding. Respondents felt that the law could be fair and protective if there were means of providing a priori support to those women who have been disadvantaged social-culturally and structurally. Without this support, the law could potentially lead HIV-positive women into hiding and not accessing services that could help them. There is need for the law implementers to consider these findings if they are to support the public health efforts to control HIV.
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