Tuvalu’s Public Health Act 2008 allows the Health Minister to make regulations to protect public health, including preventing the spread of infectious disease, which includes ‘AIDS’ (LN 11/1987).
The Public Health Regulations 2008 include provisions which theoretically could be applied to HIV, although they are very generalised as they are written to address a broad range of ‘infectious diseases’. They include regulations mandating notification of cases of infectious disease (or suspected infectious disease) to a sanitary inspector by parents, others in the household or an employer. A sanitary inspector has powers to isolate a person with an infectious disease, and person known to have been in contact with a person with an infectious disease.
In 2017, the Ministry of Health found that current legislation and policy is inappropriate for the management of HIV, stating that the development of a human rights framework to address HIV should be a priority. The report recommended a number of actions including removing ‘AIDS’ from the list of infectious diseases.
There have been no known HIV criminalisation cases in Tuvalu, which had only 11 diagnosed people living with HIV as at 2017 (and 15 cases of HIV ever diagnosed in Tuvalu).
Public Health Act 2008
Section 3 – Regulations
- The Minister may make regulations for the purpose of protecting and advancing the public health of Tuvalu and in particular as regards the following —
(e) the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases including the segregation, isolation and removal of persons suffering from any such disease or of persons who have been in contact with any such persons;
LN 11/1987 AIDS declared an infectious disease
Public Health Regulations 2008
Regulation 21 Notification of infectious disease Every case or suspected case of infectious disease shall be at once notified, in the case of a sick child, by the parent or guardian, and, in the case of a sick adult, by the householder in whose house the illness occurs, or by any other adult inmate of the house, to the nearest sanitary inspector:
Provided that where any person required to notify a case or suspected case of infectious disease is a labourer under contract of service, such labourer shall at once notify the case or suspected case to the nearest person who may be in authority over him whether as his employer or as an agent of his employer or otherwise, and such person shall in turn at once notify the case or suspected case to the nearest sanitary inspector:
And provided further that where any person under a duty of notification as aforesaid shall have failed in such duty the person in charge of the premises in which the case or suspected case of infectious disease has occurred shall as soon as he shall have become aware thereof notify the case or suspected case to the nearest sanitary inspector.
Regulation 22 – Isolation A sanitary inspector shall have power to order the isolation or removal to hospital of persons suffering or suspected to be suffering from an infectious disease, and no person so isolated or removed to hospital shall leave or be taken from the place where he has been isolated or leave the hospital or be taken from it unless so ordered by a sanitary inspector.
Regulation 23 – Contacts Any person who has been in contact with a person suffering or suspected to be suffering from any infectious disease, or who is known to have rendered himself liable in any other way to infection by an infectious disease, shall, if so ordered by a medical officer, remain in such place as such officer may direct for such period not exceeding 14 days as such officer may direct.
Regulation 26 – Power of Entry A sanitary inspector may at any time enter and inspect any boat, vessel or building in which he has reason to believe that there is a case or suspected case of infectious disease.
Our thanks to Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox for their research assistance to confirm current relevant legislation.