Through Our Own Eyes

Disclosure, Stigma, and Criminalization of HIV in British Columbia

Despite Canada’s assertive approach to HIV non-disclosure, there is limited understanding of how this law uniquely shapes the experiences of women living with HIV/AIDS. Bringing women together to share how non-disclosure impacts them will inform advocacy efforts, policy reform, and help move us toward a stigma-free society for women living with HIV.


Health and Social Development, Test Grant
UBC - BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Positive Women's Network Society, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, YouthCo, Oak Tree Clinic,  Afro-Canadian Positive Network of BC

Project Details

Canada stands out globally in its strict approach to HIV non-disclosure. The criminalization of HIV non-disclosure adversely impacts the lives of women living with HIV/AIDS due to the severe stigmatization they face. Yet, while frequently represented as a law that ‘protects’ women, there is increasing evidence that criminalization is an ineffective tool against HIV transmission and may put women living with HIV at risk of violence and abuse. 

Using photography to explore the impact of non-disclosure laws

To gain a stronger understanding of how this law impacts women, the “Through our own eyes” project uses an innovative community based participatory photovoice approach.

women living with HIV/AIDS discuss their experiences with one another and take photographs that depict how HIV non-disclosure policies shapes intimate relationships

Through this process, women living with HIV/AIDS discuss their experiences with one another and take photographs that depict how HIV non-disclosure policies shapes intimate relationships, HIV-related stigma, and access to medical care. Each participant also provides a written narrative of their experiences, and a public exhibition will showcase the resulting photographs and stories.

The exhibition, along with peer-reviewed publications and photobooks, will allow for public discussion about the impact criminalization of HIV non-disclosure has on women, help drive efforts to address the continued stigmatization of women living with HIV/AIDS, and contribute towards legal reform.

Involving  women with HIV/AIDS at every stage

“Through our own eyes – Disclosure, Stigma and Criminalization of HIV in British Columbia” is supported by partners with lived experience. A team of researchers is working with women living with HIV/AIDS, who will be involved at all stages, from conceptualization and development of research methods, to interpretation and translation of results.

While the project focuses on women living with HIV/AIDS, it also represents a step in the direction towards a society in which all women can lead lives of health and dignity, free of stigma, discrimination, and violence.

In the Media
August 3, 2016 | Winnipeg Free Press | Op-Ed
January 24, 2017 | Huffington Post | Article
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