China’s legal system includes national, provincial and local laws and regulations. Article 38 of the national Regulations on AIDS Prevention and Treatment states that a person living with HIV must inform a prospective sexual partner of their HIV status and take necessary precautions to prevent HIV transmission, although those precautions are not prescribed. Article 38 also states a person must accept direction of disease control/prevention agencies (which may include quarantine) and must inform a medical doctor from whom they seek treatment. The Regulations do not include penalties.
Article 62 of the Regulations on AIDS Prevention and Treatment states a person living with HIV who intentionally transmits HIV will be held legally liable for compensation, and if it is believed a crime may have been committed, they will be criminally investigated although the applicable criminal offence is not named.
Article 360 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China states it is an offence for any person who knows they have a “serious venereal diseases”, (using the examples of syphilis and gonorrhoea) who undertakes sex work or engages the services of a sex worker shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance and shall also be fined.
In 2009, Gansu province in north-western China passed a law mandating that anyone newly diagnosed must disclose their HIV-positive status to sexual partners within a month of diagnosis. Non-disclosure may result in prosecution for “deliberate” HIV transmission, although the penalties are not clear. It also stipulates that people with HIV have a responsibility to persuade their sexual partners into receiving counselling and testing.
In 2019, the Guowei Disase Control Regulation stated cases where intentional HIV transmission is suspected will be investigated and investigated in a timely manner.
HIV Justice Network is aware of only two cases from China, although this is likely because media written in Chinese does not routinely appear in our media scanning. The first known case was identified in an academic article on phylogenetic analysis which investigated the possibility of HIV transmission from a man to a woman through unprotected sexual contact. A more recent case involves an HIV-positive man who bit an officer attempting to carry out a forced eviction. The man was initially detained for 15 days, however his sentence was extended to a year because he was HIV-positive. HIV was not transmitted. The media report is particularly concerning as it wrongly states that HIV has an “incubation period” of up to 20 years. It is unclear whether that is information the court relied on or whether it is an error by the reporter. The reporter also notes that if the bitten officer becomes HIV positive, the accused could be tried for deliberately infecting someone with HIV, suggesting such cases are not unknown.
Decree of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China No. 457 2006
Regulations on AIDS Prevention and Treatment
People with HIV and AIDS patients shall perform the following obligations:
(1) Accept epidemiological investigation and direction of agencies of diseases control and
prevention or inspection/quarantine;
(2) Inform the fact of being infected or suffering the disease to their sexual partner in time;
(3) Inform the fact of being infected or suffering the disease to their medical doctor when they come to see the doctor;
(4) Take necessary precaution measures to prevent others being infected.
People with HIV positive and AIDS patient shall not, on purpose, spread the infection to others by any means.
HIV positive or AIDS patient who on purpose spread AIDS shall have the legal liability for compensation in accordance with the civil law, and if a crime is constituted/established/committed, an investigation shall be carried out for criminal liability in accordance with the law.
Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China (1997)
Any person who knows clearly that he or she is suffering from serious venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea goes whoring or engages in prostitution shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance and shall also be fined.
Guowei Disease Control  No. 54: Implementation plan to curb the spread of AIDS (2019-2022)
Cases suspected of intentionally spreading AIDS should be investigated and investigated in a timely manner.
This report is the culmination of 18 months of work undertaken with multiple stakeholders in China. It documents the current legal, regulatory and policy
environment impacting on access to HIV services by PLHIV and key populations. The review and consultation process was supported by UNDP and UNAIDS together with the UN ESCAP Secretariat.
Our thanks to Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox for their research assistance to confirm current relevant legislation.