As of November 2019, Angolan law relating to HIV non-disclosure, potential or perceived exposure and transmission is under review with changes expected shortly.
Under the current law (2004 Angolan law 8/04 on HIV and AIDS), all people living with HIV must take measures to limit the possibility of transmitting HIV, including using condoms. They must also inform any sexual partner of their HIV-positive status including past, present and prospective sexual partners (section 14).
Angola also criminalises the transmission of HIV under section 353 of the Penal Code. Although the law is framed around ‘intentional transmission’, it specifically includes cases of negligence, inconsideration, or ‘failure to observe regulations’. Issues of informed consent (where a person has agreed to an act knowing their partner has HIV) and use of risk reduction methods are not addressed in the law.
Two cases were reported in 2007/8 although little is known about the circumstances except that the Angola Press reported ‘the police got acquainted with these cases after various conflicts between couples’.
Proposed new law
Angola’s two proposed new laws that would relate to HIV are far more wide-ranging. Article 190 proposes criminalisation of acts relating to ‘life-threatening’ sexually transmitted infection. This includes non-disclosure prior to sex where there is no intention to transmit the infection and transmission does not result (imprisonment of up to three years with a fine of up to 360 days). Penalties increase to two to five years’ imprisonment if the infection is thought to have been transmitted. Where a person acts ‘with intention’ of transmitting the infection but transmission does not occur, the penalty is two to eight years imprisonment, increasing to three to 10 years if transmission occurs.
Article 191 has been drafted to include cases where a person undertakes an (undefined) act with the intention of transmitting an infection in an unspecified range of circumstances, with a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to 360 days if the infection is not transmitted, increasing to one to five years’ imprisonment if the infection is transmitted. Furthermore, HIV (or other STI) status may also be considered an aggravating factor and be used to increase penalties by one quarter of their minimum and maximum limits for a number of sexual assault offences, or imprisonment of eight to 15 years where the person’s actions result in a ‘serious and incurable disease’.
Law 8/04 on HIV and AIDS
Article 14 – Duties Persons infected with HIV shall:
d) inform the persons with whom they have or intend to have sexual relations of their status;
e) inform the heath personnel who attend to them of their situation so that services are administered adequately and appropriate biosecurity measures are taken;
f) inform their spouses or sexual partners about their status.
Article 15 – Transmitting
1. The intentional transmission of HIV constitutes a crime and is punishable in terms of section 353 of the Penal Code. 2. A person who, through negligence, inconsideration or failure to observe regulations, infects another, is punished in terms of section 368 of the Penal Code.
In November 2020, The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, ARASA and HIV Justice Worldwide put together a discussion document on the Criminalisation of HIV in Angola. This brief has been prepared for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on HIV and human rights in Angola, to contribute to discussions around criminalisation of HIV in the country. It sets out concerns regarding the criminalisation of HIV transmission, exposure and non-disclosure in general, based on compelling scientific developments and the position of international human rights and public health experts. It further examines the relevant laws and their application in Angola, provides alternatives to criminalisation and concludes with specific recommendations regarding the reform of such laws in the country.
Também disponivel em Português/Also available in Postuguese:
Our thanks to UNAIDS and ARASA for their research assistance to confirm current relevant legislation.