The Abbotsford man who was accused of having unprotected sex with multiple women and not disclosing his HIV-positive status said his personal and social life have been destroyed by the allegations.
Twelve charges of aggravated sexual assault against Brian Carlisle, 48, were dropped by Crown counsel April 26 in Abbotsford provincial court.
Carlisle said he has now filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and is consulting with lawyers on a possible civil lawsuit.
He says the charges should never have gone ahead in the first place.
That’s because, under the law, he does not have to disclose the information if there is “no realistic possibility of transmission of HIV,” according to a BC Prosecution Service policy titled “Sexual Transmission, or Realistic Possibility of Transmission, of HIV.”
Carlisle said his medical records prove that his viral load has been undetectable dating back to 2004, but police ignored the evidence.
“Viral load” is the term used to describe the amount of HIV in the blood.
“Studies show that people with an undetectable viral load do not pass HIV to their sexual partners,” states the website for CATIE (Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange).
CATIE was among more than 600 organizations from 75 countries that endorsed a 2016 consensus statement confirming that the risk of HIV transmission from someone whose viral load is undetectable, due to effective antiretroviral therapy, is “negligible to non-existent,” further defining “negligible” to mean “not worth considering.”
But Carlisle says police rushed to judgment based on outdated and uneducated views about HIV.
“They’re so full of the stigma of the 1980s AIDS scare that they’re not even open to the possibility of ‘undetectable,’ ” he said.
Police initially reported in August 2017 that Carlisle was facing three charges, but Mission RCMP reported the following month that nine charges had been added after several more complainants came forward.
The alleged offences occurred in Abbotsford (three counts), Surrey (three), Maple Ridge (three), Mission (one), Deroche (one), and Burnaby/Coquitlam (one).
Carlisle said he spent three days in jail following the first set of charges and then a month after the second set.
He said investigators were immediately presented with his medical records. The same records were produced two more times through the court process before the charges were dropped last week, he said.
Dan McLaughlin, spokesman with the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS), said the charges were stayed because “the charge approval standard could no longer be met” and there was not a strong likelihood of conviction.
“In this case, the prosecutor concluded that the evidentiary test was no longer met and directed the stay of proceedings,” he said.
McLaughlin also referenced the “Sexual Transmission” policy in the decision being reached.
The policy states that a “realistic possibility” of the transmission of HIV is negated if “the accused’s viral load at the time of sexual relations was low.”
Carlisle describes the investigation and subsequent charges as a “smear campaign” by police, and says their “fear-mongering mentality” and their publicizing of the case has made it difficult for him to find and keep work and to maintain a social life.
He describes an incident in which a woman recognized him in public and began yelling at him.
“They believe I really did infect women,” he says of the public perception of him.
His grown daughter, Katherine, said because she shares the same last name as her dad, she has also been subjected to harassment and vitriol.
Carlisle said he hopes that more people become educated about modern HIV treatment and outcomes, and that he can move past this period.
“I would be happy to move forward with my life … but people won’t let me move forward,” he said.
Carlisle is a prominent marijuana activist and would-be politician in the Fraser Valley, including a bid for mayor of Chilliwack in 2002.
He told community news reporters as long ago as October 2002, in relation to his marijuana use, that he had seven debilitating conditions, including being HIV-positive, something that was mentioned in multiple subsequent stories.