[Update]Sweden: Parliament votes to abolish the obligation to disclose HIV status

March 5, 2020

Publshed in Sputnik International on March 3, 2020

Swedish Parliament Urges to Exempt HIV-Positive From Duty to Inform Partners

While hailed by the country’s leading tax-financed sexual education institution as a “big victory”, the decision sparked ire as many saw it as “legalising the spread of HIV”.

The Swedish Parliament has voted to urge the government to completely abolish the co-called “disclosure demand”, stipulating that those living with HIV must inform their partners about their disease.

According to the Swedish Parliament, the current legislation which obligates HIV-positive people to disclose their status to their sexual partner is “relatively ineffective from the medical viewpoint” and “a poor ideological marker”. Hence, it should be completely abolished.

“Society should not go in and force a duty of information. Here, the hope is that couples will solve this in a pragmatic way”, Barbro Westerholm, Liberal Party spokesman on LGBT issues, told the medical newspaper Dagens Medicin ahead of the vote.

In the same proposal, Parliament urged the government to assign an appropriate authority to propose preventive measures to promote the mental health of the LGBT community, citing studies indicating a higher incidence of mental health issues compared with the general population.

The proposal, sponsored by the Green Party, which is an important sidekick to the ruling Social Democrats, has been praised by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), which for many years has fought to abolish the “disclosure demand”. The tax-financed organisation described the decision as a “big victory”. In the next step, RFSU President Hans Linde called to revise the current Infectious Diseases Act, Swedish Radio reported.

​Since 1985, HIV-positive people have a criminal obligation to inform possible sexual partners of their medical status. In 2013, however, the Public Health Authority (then the Infectious Diseases Institute) concluded that the risk of HIV transmission is minimal during intercourse with a condom, if the HIV-positive party is on well-functioning antiviral treatment.

Since then, anyone living with well-treated HIV, can be exempted from the disclosure demand after a decision by his or her physician.

According to the news outlet Fria Tider, however, Parliament has effectively “legalised the spread of HIV”, paving the way for the right to have unprotected sex without any obligations even for people who aren’t receiving treatment.

As of today, there are about 8,000 people living with HIV in Sweden, according to the Public Health Authority.


 

Published on the Swedish Parliament website on February 13, 2020 – Automatic Google translation. Scroll down for article in Swedish.

The Social Committee wants the government to review the disclosure duty of HIV positive people

The government should review whether the Communicable Diseases Act fulfills its function with regard to the duty to inform for HIV-positive people. The government should also develop preventive measures to promote the mental health of LGBT people. This is the view of the Social Committee, which sends two notices to the government on this. SD has objections to one proposed announcement.

The Social Committee has considered proposals in motions from the general exercise period 2019 on public health issues. In connection with this, the Committee wants the Riksdag to send two requests, so-called announcements, to the Government:

  • The Public Health Authority has made the assessment that there is now no requirement that a person who receives good treatment for his / her HIV should inform his sexual partner about the HIV infection, because the risk of transmission of HIV during intercourse is very low. The Government should therefore ensure that an analysis is made of whether the Infection Protection Act fulfills its purpose with regard to the duty of information for HIV-positive people.
  • Studies show that the prevalence of mental illness is higher among LGBTQ people than in the general population. The Social Committee therefore wants the government to assign an appropriate authority to propose preventive measures to promote the mental health of LGBT people.

The proposals for announcements originate in motions from the Liberals. The Social Committee proposes that the Riksdag say no to other motion proposals, including with reference to the fact that work is already underway on several of the issues raised by the motions.

Swedish Democrats says no to announcement of the Communicable Diseases Act

Several parties have reservations and objections to various parts of the proposals that the Social Committee has considered. Among other things, the Swedish Democrats believe that the Riksdag should not make any announcement to the Government about a revision of the Infection Protection Act. According to the party, the provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act on the duty of information for HIV-positive people are well-balanced as they are.

Debate and decision are expected to take place on February 19, 2020


Socialutskottet vill att regeringen ser över hivpositivas informationsplikt

Regeringen bör se över om smittskyddslagen fyller sin funktion när det gäller informationsplikten för hivpositiva. Regeringen bör även låta ta fram förebyggande åtgärder för att främja hbtq-personers psykiska hälsa. Det anser socialutskottet, som riktar två tillkännagivanden till regeringen om detta. SD har invändningar mot ena förslaget till tillkännagivande.

Socialutskottet har behandlat förslag i motioner från allmänna motionstiden 2019 om folkhälsofrågor. I samband med detta vill utskottet att riksdagen riktar två uppmaningar, så kallade tillkännagivanden, till regeringen:

  • Folkhälsomyndigheten har gjort bedömningen att det numera inte finns några krav på att en person som får bra behandling för sin hiv ska informera sina sexualpartner om hivinfektionen, detta eftersom risken för överföring av hiv vid samlag är mycket låg. Regeringen bör därför se till att det görs en analys av om smittskyddslagen fyller sitt syfte när det gäller informationsplikten för hivpositiva.
  • Undersökningar visar att förekomsten av psykisk ohälsa är högre bland hbtq-personer än hos befolkningen i allmänhet. Socialutskottet vill därför att regeringen bör ge en lämplig myndighet i uppdrag att föreslå förebyggande insatser för att främja hbtq-personers psykiska hälsa.

Förslagen till tillkännagivanden har sitt ursprung i motioner från Liberalerna. Socialutskottet föreslår att riksdagen säger nej till övriga motionsförslag, bland annat med hänvisning till att arbete redan pågår i flera av de frågor som motionerna tar upp.

SD säger nej till tillkännagivande om smittskyddslagen

Flera partier reserverar sig och har invändningar mot olika delar av de förslag som socialutskottet har behandlat. Bland annat anser Sverigedemokraterna att riksdagen inte ska rikta något tillkännagivande till regeringen om en översyn av smittskyddslagen. Enligt partiet är smittskyddslagens bestämmelser om informationsplikten för hivpositiva väl avvägda som de är.