Ukraine: Revised HIV law may no longer mandate disclosure

A new version of Ukraine’s HIV-specific law, adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament in its first hearing on 21 October, promises several positive changes, including removal of the statute mandating disclosure of known HIV-positive status prior to any activity that may risk exposure.

According to a press release from the International AIDS Society, the following changes will be implemented:

  • People living with HIV will no longer be barred from entering, staying or seeking residence in Ukraine based solely on HIV positive status;
  • NGOs providing HIV treatment, prevention and care services will have the right to apply for state contracts
  • People living with HIV will have the right to seek compensation for the unlawful disclosure of their HIV status
  • HIV-positive injecting drug users (IDUs) and other IDUs will have the right to receive Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST)
  • People living with HIV will be encouraged to disclose information about the risk of HIV transmission, however they will no longer be required by law to disclose their status to partners

WHO Europe notes

The revised law is the result of two years intensive and collaborative work, including the involvement of non-governmental sector, especially All-Ukrainian Network of People living with HIV, the support from the USAID-funded HIV/AIDS Service Capacity Project in Ukraine and the United Nations Team Group on HIV/AIDS. The change would not have been successful without a close collaboration with the Parliamentarian Committee on Public Health and its chair Dr Tatyana Bakhteeva who was very much committed to the issue.

Dr Volodymyr Kurpita, Executive Director of All-Ukrainian Network of People living with HIV told me in an email that since the final version of the revised Prevention of AIDS and Social Protection of Population Act is still awaiting parliamentary approval in the second hearing, the final wording of the law on HIV disclosure is still not known, but “we can highlight it is more progressive and less restrictive as previous one.”  

In Ukraine, newly diagnosed individuals must undergo a period of mandatory hospitalisation during which it is expected that they will sign an undertaking to obey this 1998 disclosure law. The reckless or intentional “conscious exposing to danger of infection [HIV exposure], or infection [HIV transmission]” is also subject to prosecution, with a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment. There have been at least six prosecutions and four convictions under these laws.