Number of reported cases At least 3 How do we calculate the number of cases


In Zambia, people living with HIV can be prosecuted through laws contained in the Penal Code Act and the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act, 2010, as well as the Public Health Act.

The Penal Code Act includes an article (§183) making it illegal for a person to unlawfully or negligently do any act which is, and which the person knows or believes is likely, to spread a disease dangerous to life.

The Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act has extended the definition of ‘sexual abuse’ to include cases where a person living with HIV (or any other STI) has sex without first disclosing their status.

The first known HIV-related criminal case from Zambia (2012) involved a man who was convicted of defilement of a girl and exposing her to HIV although he was unaware of his HIV-positive status at the time of the sexual assault. He was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment with hard labour.

In 2019, a young woman was working as a housemaid when, it is alleged, she breastfed her employer’s baby. The woman was arrested and both she and the infant where tested, with media reporting the woman is HIV-positive and the baby HIV-negative.

In December 2020, charges were dropped against a man charged with wilfully infecting his ex-partner after allegedly lying to her about being HIV-negative before commencing a sexual relationship. The woman failed to attend court after deciding she did not want to pursue the case. The court agreed to the prosecution’s request to drop the charges.


Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act, 2010

HIV-specific criminal law (enforced) (active)
Year enacted
Relevant text of the law

Article 2.

(1) An act of gender-based violence shall be inquired into, tried, and otherwise dealt with in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code, the Penal Code and any other written law.

Article 3.

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—


“sexual abuse” includes the engagement of another person in sexual contact, whether married or not, which includes sexual conduct that abuses, humiliates or degrades the other person or otherwise violates another person’s sexual integrity, or sexual contact by a person aware of being infected with HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection with another person without that other person being given prior information of the infection.

Penal Code

General disease law (active)
Relevant text of the law

Article 183. Negligent act likely to spread infection

Any person who unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, is guilty of a misdemeanour.

Further resources

This Legal Environment Assessment (LEA) seeks to identify and review HIV, Tuberculosis (TB), sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and other health-related laws, regulations, policies and practices in Zambia in order to identify how the legal framework impacts on access to HIV and related health services for all people, including young key populations; identify gaps and challenges that create barriers to access to health care and to make recommendations for a strengthened, enabling environment.

This information was last reviewed in January 2021