There have been no known HIV criminalisation cases in Lao PDR to date, although there are a number of provisions which have the potential to criminalise people living with HIV under the Law on HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention.
Article 46 requires people living with HIV to report their status to authorities, adhere to treatment, and avoid behaviour that can result in HIV transmission.
Article 50 prohibits people living with HIV from transmitting HIV, making a blood donation or donating tissues or organs, or engaging in other prohibited acts (see our report, Bad Blood, for a global analysis of the criminalisation of blood donations).
Article 69 specifically states that a person living with HIV who intentionally transmits HIV is guilty of a criminal offence, with a penalty of five to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of LAK 10,000,000 to 50,000,000. Where an offender transmit HIV “by habits or by organized group”, the sentence shall range from five to fifteen years with a fine of between LAK 50,000,000 to 70,000,000.
Article 17 states a woman living with HIV is prohibited from having a “normal” vaginal delivery and cannot breastfeed her baby.
The laws do not address issues of intention or consent to risk by a partner. Article 64 states that punishment for failing to comply with the law can be extended to individuals, families or organisations, who may be educated, disciplined, fined, subject to civil compensation or criminal penalty, depending on the seriousness of the facts proven.
Law on HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention
Article 17: HIV prevention from mother to child transmission, should apply the following key means and measures:
- A woman wishes to have a baby and a pregnant woman should receive a blood test for HIV;
- HIV-positive pregnant woman shall receive ARV drugs;
- A baby born to an HIV infected mother shall receive ARV drugs according to national treatment guidelines;
- An HIV infected mother may not have normal delivery and may not breastfeed her baby
Article 45: Individuals regardless of age and gender residing in Lao PDR should actively participate in HIV/AIDS control and prevention, avoiding risk behaviour for HIV infection, getting blood test on the voluntary basis for HIV and in case of positive blood test; they should promptly seek for treatment and not further infect other people. Those who are at risk of HIV infection through their occupations should strictly observe preventive measures according to principles, regulations, approaches and measures on HIV/AIDS prevention.
Article 46: People living with HIV and AIDS should adhere for their treatment and report on their health status to concerned authorities, and strictly follow advises and instructions from medical personnel on their treatment and care.
In addition, people living with HIV and AIDS have the following rights and duties:
- Rights to the protection from the government regarding to employment, education, and are entitled for other rights like other people;
- Participate in HIV/AIDS control and prevention by providing advisory and counselling services to other people living with HIV and AIDS and other people especially among risk and vulnerable populations;
- Avoid behaviour that transmitting HIV infection to other people.
Article 50: People living with HIV and AIDS are prohibited to perform the following actions:
- Transmit HIV infection to other people by all means;
- Donate blood, tissues and organs;
- Bribing officials or authorities responsible for HIV/AIDS control and prevention;
- Not following advises and instructions from medical personnel on HIV/AIDS control and prevention;
- Engaging in any actions prohibited by relevant regulations and laws.
Article 64: Individuals, families or organizations that fail to comply with this law may be educated, disciplined, fined, subject to civil compensation or criminal penalty, depending on the seriousness of the facts proven.
Article 69: Any individual who fails to comply with this law mainly prohibitions, considered as a criminal offense should be punished according to the penal law.
People living with HIV and AIDS or individuals who intentionally transmit HIV infection to others, such action shall be regarded as a criminal offense and those found guilty shall be imprisoned from five to ten years and fined from LAK 10,000,000 to 50,000,000.
In case an offender transmits HIV infection to others by habits or by organized group, an imprisonment sentence shall be from five to fifteen years and fine shall be from LAK 50,000,000 to 70,000,000.
Our thanks to Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox for their research assistance to confirm current relevant legislation.