In Nicaragua there is both an HIV-specific statute, as well as general criminal laws prohibiting the spread of diseases.
Article 156 of the Penal Code states that anyone who knows they are living with a sexually transmitted disease or other serious disease, and who undertakes acts that pose a “danger of transmission” and thereby endangers the health, physical integrity or life of another, is liable for a prison sentence of six months to three years.
Where transmission actually occurs, the penalty is increased to one to four years’ imprisonment. Where this results in death, the accused is liable for more serious offences, such as those under the “Crimes Against Life” chapter of the Penal Code.
These provisions therefore criminalise potential or perceived exposure as well as alleged transmission.
Furthermore, Article 342 of the Penal Code criminalises the wilful transmission of diseases via blood donation with a penalty of one to five years’ imprisonment, increased by one third in the case of incurable diseases. Under Article 343, where this is caused recklessly, the penalty is lowered to four months to one year’s imprisonment.
In 2012 a new law was introduced, Law No. 820 of 27 November 2012, the Law for the Promotion, Protection and Defence of Human Rights Against HIV and AIDS for their Prevention and Care, which imposed a number of duties on those living with HIV, as well as some protections including the right to access services such as healthcare, education and employment.
Article 10 of Law No. 820 provides that testing is non-obligatory, except in specific circumstances including a range of criminal offending outlined under Article 11.
Article 14 states that everyone who is living with HIV has a duty to exercise their sexuality “with responsibility” in order to minimise the risk of transmission and must provide epidemiological information for the purposes of national registries. The penalties for failure to comply with these regulations are not clear.
Around the same time as the passing of Law No. 820, it was also reported that Nicaragua was considering introducing laws which specifically criminalised HIV transmission. However, this does not appear to have materialised.
There have been no known cases of HIV-related prosecutions in Nicaragua.
Penal Code- LAW No.641, Approved on November 13 2007- Criminal Code
Article 156 Contagion provoked
Who, knowing that he suffers from a sexually transmitted disease or any other serious infectious disease, will execute acts involving importation or transmission of such disease on another person, thereby endangering his health, physical integrity or his life will be punished with imprisonment from six months to three years. If contagion occurs, the penalty will be one to four years in prison.
If contagion causes death, the corresponding criminal rate will be applied.
Article 342 Contamination by blood transfusion
Who, knowingly and on the occasion of a blood transfusion or any of its derivatives or in the preparatory process to carry out this activity, contaminates the recipient with any disease or condition transmitted by this route, will be sanctioned with prison of one to five years and disqualification for the same period to practice profession or trade related to the conduct.
When the previous behaviors produce an incurable disease the penalties will be increased by a third, in their minimum and maximum limits.
Who, knowingly, applies a type of blood to a recipient that is not compatible with his blood type, will be punished with one to five years’ imprisonment and disqualification for the same period to practice a profession or trade related to the conduct.
Article 343 Liability for recklessness
When any of the events provided for in the preceding articles of this Chapter is committed by reckless recklessness, an attenuated penalty shall be imposed, the maximum limit of which shall be the lower limit of the penalty that the crime in question deserves and its minimum limit one third of this.
Promotion, Protection and Defense of Human Rights Before HIV and AIDS for their Prevention and Care- Law 820, Approved on November 27 2012
Article 14 Duties
a) Sexual Responsibility
Everyone, including those with STIs, HIV and AIDS, has a duty to exercise their sexuality with responsibility and solidarity with others, using barrier methods, in order to minimize the risks of transmission, coinfection and reinfection, for the control of the epidemic and other Sexually Transmitted Infections.
b) Responsibility for epidemiological control
For national registration purposes, people with HIV or AIDS condition must provide epidemiological information in accordance with current regulations.