Greece does not have an HIV-specific provision but other laws in the Penal Code may be applied, for example, causing bodily harm/injury (sections 308 to 314).
At least thirty four people have been prosecuted in relation to HIV. In the first known case in 2010, it was reported that a Thessaloniki court reportedly found a man guilty of ‘bodily injury through serial negligence’ and ‘violation of measures imposed by the authority responsible for the spread of disease from deliberate negligence’ because he unknowingly donated HIV-positive blood which then resulted in HIV transmission to several blood recipients. The man, who was undiagnosed at the time he gave the blood donation, was found to be culpable because he had not disclosed that he had previously had sex with a sex worker. He was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years. It is not clear under which provision the man was sentenced, though it was likely article 134 of the Penal Code which criminalises physical injury caused by negligence (see our report, Bad Blood, for a global analysis of the criminalisation of blood donations).
In 2012, Greece had a notorious case in which almost 100 women were arrested after the health minister called for the criminalisation of condomless sex with sex workers. The women were detained by police, forcibly HIV tested, and the 32 women who tested HIV-positive were charged with a felony, imprisoned and publicly vilified. Although all of the women who had been charged with intentionally infecting people while allegedly working as sex workers were released or acquitted by May 2017, this came at a huge personal cost to the women who had always maintained their innocence; three of whom died before their case was concluded.
The case had hinged on Public Health Decree 39A (2012) which allowed police to detain and forcibly test people suspected of being HIV-positive, which could then facilitate quarantine, arrest and deportation of ‘illegal’ migrants. The law was strenuously opposed by scientists and human rights advocates, leading to its eventual repeal in April 2015.
In the most recent case, an HIV-positive man was charged with attempting to cause bodily injury and attempting to cause serious bodily injury with deception on the grounds that he did not use a condom during sex with a woman with whom he had an occasional sexual relationship. Supported by the Greek community organisation, Centre for Life, the case introduced scientific evidence regarding the accused’s sustained undetectable viral load as a result of effective treatment. The 2nd Joint Court of Athens found that given the scientific evidence on transmission risk, the charges were not met, finding the man not guilty. This is the first Greek case where a court has explicitly adopted scientific evidence regarding effective treatment and HIV transmission risk.
- Anyone who causes other bodily harm or damage to his health shall be punished by imprisonment of up to two years in prison. If the injury or damage to the health that caused him is mild, he is punished with the provision of public service.
309. Dangerous bodily harm
If the action in the preceding article was carried out in a manner that could cause life-threatening injury or serious personal injury, imprisonment of up to three years or a fine may be imposed.
310. Severe bodily harm
- Anyone who causes serious injury to another person shall be punished with imprisonment of at least one year. If he sought the cause of grievous bodily harm, is punishable by up to ten years.
- Severe bodily harm exists in particular if the act has caused a life-threatening illness or severe and long-term illness or serious amputation or if it has significantly prevented him from using his body or intellect for a long time.
- If the perpetrator sought the result he caused, he shall be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years.
314. Physical injury due to negligence
- Whoever by negligence causes bodily injury or damage to the health of another is punished with imprisonment of up to three years. If the bodily injury caused is completely minor, detention is imposed for up to three (3) months or with a fine of up to three thousand (3,000) euros.
- The provision of par. 2 of article 302 is applied accordingly in the practice of the previous paragraph. In this case the criminal prosecution always requires a complaint and the second paragraph of the first paragraph of the next article does not apply.
Law 2734 / 5-8-1999 / Legislation for sex workers
A person who is extradited and carnally knowing that he or she is suffering from a sexually transmitted or other infectious disease shall be punished with imprisonment of up to one (1) year unless the offense is punishable by another provision.
Abolished 2015: Ministerial Decision 39A /2012 – Regulations regarding the restriction of infectious diseases
The healthcare provision in question specified – among other things – dangerous infectious diseases requiring compulsory screening of immigrants, asylum seekers, drug users and sex workers.
Our thanks to Centre for Life for their assistance confirming facts and current relevant legislation.