Quebec man gets 18 months prison-time for failing to disclose HIV status to girlfriend

A Quebec City man has been given a four-year prison sentence, in part for having failed to disclose he was HIV-positive to his long-term partner. 

François Courcy pleaded guilty last year to an aggravated assault charge. His sentence includes 18 months for not telling his girlfriend of three years that he had both HIV and Hepatitis B.

"She experienced stress, anxiety and betrayal as a result of the accused's lies," Quebec Court Judge Chantale Pelletier said in handing down her sentence on Friday. Pelletier added that the woman did not contract HIV.

Courcy, 47, was also sentenced to serve an additional 30 months for having repeatedly assaulted a young girl in the 1980s. He was found guilty in connection with those incidents in December. 

Along with the four-year sentence, Courcy will be listed on the sex offender registry for life.

He was hoping to avoid prison altogether, arguing that his HIV diagnosis required frequent medical check-ups. The judge, however, denied his request, saying that prison health services would meet his needs.

Changes coming to Criminal Code

Though there is no specific provision in the Criminal Code regarding the disclosure of HIV status, Supreme Court rulings in 1998 and 2012 established that HIV carriers can have a legal duty to inform their partners.

This can make it illegal for a person with HIV to engage in consensual sex without disclosing, even if their partner doesn't contract the virus.

In late 2016, the federal government signaled that it is open to changing the Criminal Code.

"The over-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure discourages many individuals from being tested and seeking treatment, and further stigmatizes those living with HIV or AIDS," Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a statement last year.