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