Uruguay has no HIV-specific laws, however there are some general harm provisions in the Penal Code which could be used to prosecute cases of HIV ‘exposure’ or transmission.
Article 224 of the Penal Code makes it an offence to violate sanitary provisions to prevent the introduction or spread of ‘epidemic or contagious diseases of any nature’. This provision carries a penalty of three to 24 months’ imprisonment. It is not clear whether this provision could be applied to HIV ‘exposure’. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, proposals were made to amend Article 224 to include a clause that ‘the application of the maximum of the aforementioned penalty will be especially justified when the fact is a health emergency declared by the competent authorities.’ This proposal was opposed by the feminist organisation, Women and Health in Uruguay, however it is not clear if this amendment was made.
Additionally, Article 318 defines ‘serious personal injury’ to include incurable diseases, potentially opening up the possibility of prosecution for HIV transmission under this provision. The penalty applied in this case is twenty months to eight years’ imprisonment.
HJN is not aware of any reported HIV criminalisation cases to date.
Article 224. Damage due to violation of sanitary provisions
Whoever, through violation of sanitary provisions issued and published by the competent authority to prevent the introduction or spread in the national territory of epidemic or contagious diseases of any nature, will cause damage to health human or animal, will be punished with three to twenty-four months in prison.
Article 318. Serious Injuries
Personal injury is very serious, and the penalty of twenty months in prison will be applied to eight years in prison if the fact results from:
1. A certain or probably incurable disease.