Belize

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Overview

The Criminal Code of Belize contains a HIV-specific provision under Section 46A which penalises any person who “deliberately or recklessly transmits or spreads HIV/AIDS”. This offence carries a sentence of imprisonment up to five years for a summary conviction, or up to ten years for a conviction on indictment.

Section 73A further defines this provision, stating that an offence is committed where a person “knows that he (sic) is infected with HIV/AIDS” and does a sexual act, defined as vaginal, oral or anal intercourse, with another that involves bodily contact and is capable of transmitting bodily fluids, and does not inform the other person of their status.

Section 73A also states that an offence is committed under this provision where the person “knows that he (sic) is infected with HIV/AIDS” and gives a blood donation or does anything “likely to cause another person to be infected with HIV/AIDS”.

While these provisions ostensibly criminalise the “spread” of HIV, their wording indicates that actual transmission is not required and that it is sufficient for a person with HIV to be prosecuted simply for not disclosing their HIV status. Their effect is therefore not only to criminalise HIV transmission, but also non-disclosure and potential or perceived exposure to HIV.

There have been no reported cases under these provisions specifically, however, in a 2008 rape case, the fact that the defendant knew that he was HIV-positive when he committed rape against the victim was taken into account. The Court of Appeal described this as a “grave aggravating factor” and deemed the 18 year prison sentence passed down by the trial judge appropriate.

Laws

Criminal Code of Belize

HIV-specific criminal law (active)
Year enacted
2011
Relevant text of the law

Chapter 101 of the Criminal Code of Belize:

Sections 46A , Deliberate or reckless spreading of HIV/AIDS

1) In this Code, “HIV/AIDS” means the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

(2) Every person who deliberately or recklessly transmits or spreads HIV/AIDS shall,

(a) on summary conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and

(b) on conviction on indictment, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

73A Deliberate or reckless spreading of HIV/AIDS defined

(1) A person deliberately or recklessly spreads HIV/AIDS if the person does any act specified in subsection (2) or (3) of this section.

(2) Subsection (1) applies where the person,

(a) knows that he is infected with HIV/AIDS; and

(b) does a sexual act with another person which involves bodily contact and is capable of transmitting bodily fluids; and

(c) does not inform the other person that he is infected with HIV/AIDS.

(3) Subsection (1) of this section applies where the person,

(a) knows that he is infected with HIV/AIDS; and

(b) donates blood or does anything not provided in subsection (2) which is likely to cause another person to be infected with HIV/AIDS.

(4) In this section “sexual act” means vaginal, oral or anal intercourse.

Further resources

Decision from the Court of Appeal of Belize who considered that the appellant’s conduct in having sexual intercourse knowing that he was HIV positive, was a grave aggravating factor. The sentence of 18 years was upheld.

This information was last reviewed in April 2020