Uganda: Bill retaining death penalty for having gay sex when HIV positive sent back to President for signing

Uganda parliament passes harsh anti-LGBTQ bill mostly unchanged

KAMPALA, May 2 (Reuters) – Uganda’s parliament on Tuesday passed one of the world’s strictest anti-LGBTQ bills mostly unchanged, including provision for long jail terms and the death penalty, after the president requested some parts of the original legislation be toned down.

The new bill retains most of the harshest measures of the legislation adopted in March, which drew condemnation from the United States, European Union, United Nations and major corporations.

The provisions retained in the new bill allow for the death penalty in cases of so-called “aggravated homosexuality”, a term the government uses to describe actions including having gay sex when HIV-positive.

It allows a 20-year sentence for promoting homosexuality, which activists say could criminalise any advocacy for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens.

The legislation now heads back to President Yoweri Museveni, who can sign it, veto it or return it again to parliament.

Museveni, a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, has signalled he intends to sign the legislation once certain changes are made, including the addition of measures to “rehabilitate” gay people.

It was not immediately clear if the new bill satisfied his requests, and his office was not available for comment.

The legislation was amended to stipulate that merely identifying as LGBTQ is not a crime. It also revised a measure that obliged people to report homosexual activity to only require reporting when a child is involved.


Human rights activist Adrian Jjuuko dismissed the first amendment regarding LGBTQ identification as “useless”.

“In practice, the police doesn’t care about whether you’ve committed the act or not. They will arrest you for acting like gay, walking like gay,” he said.

Same-sex relations are already illegal in Uganda under a British colonial-era law. LGBTQ individuals routinely face arrest and harassment by law enforcement, and passage of the bill in March unleashed a wave of arrests, evictions and mob attacks, members of the community say.

Proponents of the bill say broad legislation is needed to counter what they allege, without evidence, are efforts by LGBTQ Ugandans to recruit children into homosexuality.

After a voice vote on Tuesday that followed less than a half-hour of debate, parliament speaker Anita Among urged lawmakers to remain defiant in the face of international criticism.

“Let’s protect Ugandans, let’s protect our values, our virtues,” Among said. “The Western world will not come and rule Uganda.”

Western governments suspended aid, imposed visa restrictions and curtailed security cooperation in response to another anti-LGBTQ law Museveni signed in 2014. That law was nullified within months by a domestic court on procedural grounds.

The U.S. government said last week that it was assessing the implications of the looming law for activities in Uganda under its flagship HIV/AIDS programme.

Kenya: People living with HIV will continue to lobby for change after disappointing High Court decision

“HIV is not a crime!” – People living with HIV disappointed by High Court judgment in HIV criminalisation case

31 March 2023 – Nairobi, Kenya
Communities of people living with and affected by HIV are disappointed with the Nairobi High Court’s decision dismissing Petition 447 of 2018.

This is a Petition was filed in December 2018, that asked that the Court declare section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act 3 of 2006 to be unconstitutional, void and invalid, and therefore struck from the law. This law criminalises deliberate transmission and or exposure of life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The manner in which it has been interpreted has caused harm to persons living with HIV.

On 20 December 2022, Justice Ong’udi in the Nairobi High Court dismissed the
Petition, upholding the law’s constitutionality.

“We are disappointed with the judgment. Evidence from across the world shows us that criminalisation does not prevent HIV transmission. It makes effective HIV testing, treatment and disclosure harder and it increases stigma and discrimination”, said Carlin Kizito.

The communities were particularly concerned that the law leaves women living with HIV vulnerable to unjust prosecution. “Women are usually the first to find out about their
HIV status when they test during pregnancy. Because of this, the law makes them vulnerable to prosecution because they will be assumed to be the one who brought HIV into the relationship even when this is not the case,
” said Jerop Limo, Executive Director of Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Program (AYARHEP)

Maurine Murenga of Lean on Me Foundation said that the State does not have the means to prove scientifically that one person necessarily transmitted HIV to another.
She said further, “Laws like this also spread misinformation about HIV. We’ve seen a number of women living with HIV being prosecuted for breastfeeding, yet breastfeeding guidelines state that breastfeeding is safe for women on HIV treatment. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommends it.” Maurine further added that “HIV is not a crime or a death sentence. With effective treatment, you can live a long and healthy life. Effective treatment also makes HIV undetectable and therefore untransmissible. Testing, treatment and support should be our focus, not punishment,”

Bozzi Ongala of the Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Program (AYARHEP) spoke on the need for using science to improve laws on HIV, “We urge that there be a progressive updates in the law in response to Scientific advancements on HIV research.”

“We, the networks of people living with HIV are encouraged that the Petitioners intend to appeal the judgment. We shall continue to lobby the government to change the law. On behalf of people living with HIV, we look forward to positive justice.” said Patricia Asero of ICW Kenya.

  1. Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Program (AYARHEP)
  2. ICW Kenya
  4. Operation Hope Community Based Organization
  5. Network of People Living with HIV (NEPHAK)
  6. Lean on Me
  8. YPLUS Kenya

Kazakhstan: 0.1% of people diagnosed with HIV in 2022 filed a report for alleged HIV transmission

Why Kazakhstan’s HIV-positive people do not go to the police?

Translated via – For article in Russian, please scroll down

Knowingly infecting another person with the immunodeficiency virus is a crime, but most criminal cases break up before trial.

Last year, 3,900 Kazakhstani people got the bad news of their HIV test result – 11.5% more than a year earlier (3,500).

Infecting another person with HIV is a criminal offence. Article 118 of Kazakhstan’s Criminal Code provides that if a person infects another person, he or she faces up to five years in prison. The only exception to this is if the HIV-positive person warned his or her partner and the partner volunteered to take the risk.

Law enforcement agencies record reports of those infected every year. But compared to the total annual statistics of new patients at AIDS centres, the number of those who report intentional infection to the police is negligible. In 2022, out of 3,900 infected people, only four, or 0.1%, filed a report. In previous years of the five-year period, such appeals were also few: from 5 to 12. This is data from the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounts of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

It is noteworthy that not every such criminal case goes to court. It is not uncommon for cases to be closed on various grounds. This is influenced by many factors, including the evidence base. For example, last year, law enforcement agencies had 6 criminal cases pending. Four of them were received in 2022, and the other two are the previous years’ cases. By the end of the year, only 2 cases were sent to court, and 4 were closed. According to the Legal Statistics Committee report, these 4 cases were terminated on one of the following grounds: lack of corpus delicti, expiration of the statute of limitations, death of a suspect, and “due to refusal to give consent of the prosecutor’s office to prosecute a person who has privileges or immunity from prosecution”. Such persons, according to Chapter 57 of the Criminal Procedure Code, include diplomatic officials, judges, prosecutors and members of parliament. Which of the listed grounds was applied to terminate specifically these criminal cases is not specified in the statistics.

The gender ratio of victims can also be traced in the reports. Most often, it is women who submit statements to the police. Cases of minors being infected with HIV are also recorded. In 2019, 2021 and 2022 the parents of 9 school, college and lyceum students who were infected with HIV contacted the police.

Почему ВИЧ-инфицированные казахстанцы не обращаются в полицию?

Осознанное заражение другого человека вирусом иммунодефицита – преступление, но основная часть уголовных дел распадается до суда.

В прошлом году плохие новости о своем результате ВИЧ-теста узнали 3,9 тыс. казахстанцев — на 11,5% больше, чем годом ранее (3,5 тыс.).

Заражение ВИЧ-инфекцией другого человека — уголовно наказуемое преступление. Статья 118 уголовного кодекса РК гласит: если человек с положительным статусом ВИЧ заразил другого, его могут лишить свободы на срок до пяти лет. Исключение сделают только в том случае, если ВИЧ-инфицированный предупредил партнера и тот добровольно пошел на риск.

Правоохранительные органы ежегодно фиксируют заявления зараженных. Но в сравнении с общей годовой статистикой новых пациентов СПИД-центров, число тех, кто обращается в полицию в связи с умышленным заражением, ничтожно мало. В 2022 году из 3,9 тыс. зараженных заявления написали всего 4 человека, или 0,1%. В предыдущие годы пятилетки таких обращений тоже было немного: от 5 до 12. Это данные комитета по правовой статистике и спецучетам Генпрокуратуры РК.

Примечательно, что далеко не каждое такое уголовное дело доходит до суда. Нередки случаи, когда дела закрывают по разным основаниям. На это влияет много факторов, в том числе доказательная база. Например, в прошлом году в производстве у правоохранительных органов находились 6 уголовных дел. Из них 4 поступили в 2022 году, ещёе 2 — переходящие дела предыдущих лет. До конца года в суд было направлено только 2 дела, а 4 — закрыты. По информации из отчета комитета правовой статистики, производство по этим 4 делам было прекращено по одному из следующих оснований: отсутствие состава преступления, истечение срока давности, смерть подозреваемого, а также “в связи с отказом в даче согласия прокуратуры на привлечение к уголовной ответственности лица, обладающего привилегиями или иммунитетом от уголовного преследования”. К числу таких лиц, согласно главе 57 Уголовно-процессуального кодекса РК, относятся дипломатические работники, судьи, прокуроры, депутаты парламента. Какое из перечисленных оснований было применено для прекращения конкретно этих уголовных дел, в статистике не указывается.

Можно проследить в отчетах и гендерное соотношение потерпевших. Чаще всего заявления в полицию пишут женщины. Фиксируются и случаи заражения ВИЧ-инфекцией несовершеннолетних. В 2019-м, 2021-м и 2022 году в полицию обратились родители 9 школьников, учащихся колледжей и лицеев, которые были заражены ВИЧ.

Kenya: Petitioners intend to appeal High Court decision to dismiss challenge to the criminalisation of HIV transmission

KELIN disappointed by High Court judgment in HIV criminalisation case

The Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (“KELIN”) is disappointed with the Nairobi High Court’s decision dismissing Petition 447 of 2018.

The Petition was filed in December 2018. It asked that the Court declare section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act 3 of 2006 to be unconstitutional, void and invalid, and therefore struck from the law. This law criminalises deliberate transmission and or exposure of life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

On 20 December 2022, Justice Ong’udi in the Nairobi High Court dismissed the Petition, upholding the law’s constitutionality.

We are disappointed with both the outcome and the Court’s process,” said Mr Allan Maleche, the Executive Director of KELIN. “The judgment failed to consider the undisputed expert evidence. That evidence showed how this law, and its application, are not only contrary to international scientific consensus on the nature and risk of HIV transmission, but that it is also harmful to proven strategies to prevent and treat HIV effectively”, he said.

Ms Nerima Were, KELIN’s Head of Programmes, said that in addition, KELIN regretted that the Court elected not to have an oral hearing and instead decided the case on the papers only. It also declined to consider the amici curiae’s submissions, despite that they had previously been admitted as friends of the Court on 27 January 2020. Ms Were said that “For such an important case, where understanding HIV science was critical to ensuring justice, the Court would have benefitted from hearing the Petitioners and counsel, and from considering the international expertise of the friends of the court, UNAIDS and HIV Justice Worldwide.”

Mr Maleche said that while the judgment somewhat narrows the interpretation of the offence, for as long as it remains on the books, it will continue to obstruct an effective HIV response. The Petitioners intend to appeal the judgment.

Who were the parties?

The petitioners were KELIN, people living with HIV and an HIV-negative spouse.

  • The first petitioner was a man living with HIV who had been charged with a crime under section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act for allegedly biting a police officer’s thumb during his arrest.
  • The second petitioner was a woman living with HIV who was on HIV treatment and had an undetectable viral load. She was charged under section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act after being falsely accused of breastfeeding another person’s child.
  • The third petitioner was a woman living with HIV. After she disclosed her HIV-positive status to her spouse, he violently assaulted her and threatened to report her to the police under section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act.
  • The fourth petitioner was a woman living with HIV who was married to the fifth petitioner, who is HIV-negative. The sixth petitioner was similarly a woman living with HIV who was married to an HIV-negative spouse. These petitioners were concerned that the HIV-positive spouses risked prosecution under section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, even though they were all aware of each other’s HIV-statuses, and that the HIV-positive spouses were on treatment and taking precautions to prevent transmission.

The respondents were the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution (“DPP”).

The National AIDS Control Council (“NACC”) joined as an interested party.

There were two friends of the court (or amici curiae): the Joint United National Programme on HIV and AIDS (“UNAIDS”) and HIV Justice Worldwide (“HJWW”) (“the friends of the Court”).

What were the parties’ arguments?

The Petitioners argued that section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act infringes the principle of legality because it is vague and arbitrarily enforced. They demonstrated that – by virtue of the law’s vague language – it is being applied in circumstances where there is scientifically a minimal or no risk of HIV transmission, and in circumstances where there is no established intent to transmit HIV.

The Petitioners demonstrated that section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act had been used to harass and extort people living with HIV, to test them without informed consent, as a tool of gender-based violence against women living with HIV, to publicise people’s confidential health information unjustifiably, and to advance HIV stigma and misinformation.

The Petitioners argued that the law therefore infringes constitutionally protected rights unjustifiably, including article 28 (the right to inherent dignity), article 29(f) (the right to freedom and security of the person), article 27 (the right to freedom from discrimination), article 49(1)(d) (the rights of arrested persons), article 50(1) (the right to a fair trial), article 31 (the right to privacy), and article 45 (the right to family).

The Petitioners provided undisputed expert evidence to show that the law did not prevent HIV transmission.

The Attorney General, with the support of the DPP, opposed the Petition. He argued that section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act was not unconstitutional and was clear and unambiguous.

The NACC also opposed the Petition. It argued that the law properly aimed to punish people who deliberately infect other people and did not infringe any constitutional rights.

HJWW and UNAIDS were admitted as friends of the Court on 27 January 2020. HJWW provided an international context to HIV criminalisation generally and to section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act specifically. UNAIDS sought to provide the court with information on international standards, policies and recommendations regarding the use of criminal law against HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission. The Court declined to consider the submissions of the friends of the court.

What was the court’s decision?

The High Court dismissed the Petition.

It considered that it was beyond its mandate to consider the undisputed evidence that the law undermined public health interventions and efforts to prevent HIV transmission.

The Court did not consider that section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional. It held that, properly interpreted, an offence is only committed if a person has actual knowledge of their HIV status, and intentionally, knowingly and wilfully does infects a person with HIV or other sexually transmitted disease. It therefore did not consider the provision vague or ambiguous.

It held further that the Petitioners had not shown that section 26 of the Act violated their constitutional rights.

The Court nonetheless acknowledged that the Petitioners had “clearly showcased” that the law had been used to “harass and charge them wrongfully” as people living with HIV. It held that the Petitioners were at liberty to seek redress for any non-compliance by the authorities with the law.

It held that a person’s HIV-positive status should never be announced in open Court or published in order to protect the dignity of the person concerned.

What is the effect of the High Court’s decision?

The Court’s decision means that, unless the judgment is successfully overturned on appeal, section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act remains valid law in Kenya.

The Court has confirmed, however, that the offence should be restrictively applied only where three elements are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • First, the perpetrator must act intentionally and with a specific intention to infect another person;
  • Second, the perpetrator must have actual knowledge of their HIV status; and
  • Third, the prosecution must prove that the perpetrator actually infected the other person with HIV.

The Petitioners have a right appeal the judgment to the Court of Appeal.

Kenya: High Court dismisses petition challenging the constitutionality of HIV criminalisation

Disappointment as High Court Dismisses Case Challenging Criminalisation of HIV transmission

Nairobi, 20th December 2022. The High Court has dealt a blow to the fight against the HIV response, by dismissing a petition that challenged the criminalisation of all forms of deliberate transmission of HIV. Hon. Lady Justice Hedwig Ong’udi dismissed the petition on the grounds, the petitioners had not met the threshold to have the section declared unconstitutional. Further she noted that Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act(SOA), does not refer to all people living with HIV, but rather those who deliberately and knowingly transmit HIV.

Had the court upheld the petition Kenya who have been removed from the list of the 30 sub-Saharan nations  and the 92 countries globally, who have enacted and enforced laws that criminalise HIV exposure and infection.

The petition filed by KELIN, and 6 other petitioners, who included people living with HIV, challenged the constitutionality of Section 26 of the SOA. This law criminalizes the deliberate transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Petitioners had based their petition on the factual and lived experiences of each of the first six petitioners, all of whom have been adversely affected by the discriminatory application of this section yet had not been engaged in any sexual offences.

The Attorney General together with the National AIDS Control Council had opposed the petition arguing the section was constitutional as it was necessary to curb deliberate transmission due to the continued presence of HIV in Africa. It further argued that the rights of persons living or affected by HIV are not absolute, and that these must be weighed and interpreted with limitations provided under the Constitution.

As at the time of publishing this news alert, the court judgment had yet to be released to the parties. We look forward to receiving the court decision to better understand the court’s reasoning as well as determine a way forward.   A further statement will be issued in due course.

Links to pleadings



Supplementary submissions

AG submissions

Mexico: LGBTQ+ community calling for the repeal of HIV criminalisation statute in Quintana Roo Public Health Law

LGBTQ+ community calls for changes to Quintana Roo Health Law

Translated via Please scroll down for original article in Spanish.

The LGBTQ+ community is calling for the repeal of the criminalisation of HIV transmission in the Quintana Roo Health Law.

The LGBTQ+ community, in a working meeting with local Congresswoman Estefanía Mercado Asencio, requested the repeal of Article 113 of the Quintana Roo Health Law, which criminalises the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV.

The repeal of this article, found in Title Eight, Chapter II, Communicable Diseases, has been requested for several Legislatures, but has been ignored, said Omar Ortiz, the President of the Civil Association “Información y Educación Sexual”.

At the meeting, which was attended by people representing sexually diverse populations, people involved in the HIV response and mothers of various sexually diverse populations, a request was made to encourage municipalities to have a Sexual Diversity Unit, as in Solidaridad, which is the only municipality with such a unit, and for the State Government to have a Secretariat for Sexual Diversity.

“We were attending to the pending legislative agenda, with respect to what is already advanced and what is pending in the matter, at the local level; we talked about article 113 of the Health Law, which criminalises the issue of HIV, as well as the fact that Solidaridad is the only municipality that has a Unit for the Attention to Sexual Diversity, and she, as a deputy, has the possibility of presenting an initiative so that all municipalities have this position,” he pointed out.

“The article criminalises the fact of transmission, when it is an issue that cannot be scientifically proven; I cannot prove that you have transmitted HIV to me because there is no scientific or laboratory mechanism that allows us to know that it was you and not another partner or my sexual contacts, nor at what moment it happened. There is no way to apply that article, it is basically up to interpretation and that cannot be in the law.

Another issue they asked the Congresswoman to address is the creation of the Unit for Comprehensive Care of Sexually Diverse Populations and Children and Adolescents who require specialised endocrinology care, which responds to the needs of social minorities, such as the transgender population, in order to carry out their transition process under medical supervision, without endangering their lives and health.

Exige comunidad LGBTQ+ cambios a Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo

La comunidad LGBTQ+ pide derogar la criminalización del hecho de la transmisión del VIH en la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo.

La comunidad LGBTQ+, en reunión de trabajo con la Diputada local, Estefanía Mercado Asencio, solicitó derogar el artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo ya que, criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión de enfermedades venéreas, en específico del VIH.

El citado artículo, ubicado en el Título Octavo, Capítulo II, Enfermedades Transmisibles, se ha pedido su derogación desde hace varias Legislaturas, pero ha sido ignorado, apuntó el Presidente de la Asociación Civil “Información y Educación Sexual”, Omar Ortiz.

En el encuentro donde participaron personas de la diversidad sexual, de respuesta del VIH y madres de poblaciones de la diversidad, se solicitó la promoción de una iniciativa para que los Ayuntamientos tengan una Unidad de la Diversidad Sexual, como en Solidaridad, que es el único con esta instancia, y que el Gobierno del Estado tenga una Secretaría de la Diversidad Sexual.

“Estuvimos atendiendo la agenda Legislativa pendiente, respecto a lo ya avanzado y lo pendiente que tenemos en la materia, en el terreno local; hablamos del artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud, que criminaliza el tema del VIH, así como que Solidaridad es el único Ayuntamiento que tiene una Unidad para la Atención a la Diversidad Sexual, y ella, como diputada, tiene la posibilidad de presentar una iniciativa para que todos los municipios cuenten con esta figura”, señaló.

“El artículo criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión, cuando es un tema que científicamente no se puede probar; yo no puedo probar que tú me hayas transmitido el VIH porque no existe un mecanismo científico, de laboratorio, que permita saber que fuiste tú y no otra pareja o mis contactos sexuales, ni en qué momento se dio. No hay manera de aplicar ese artículo, está básicamente a interpretación y eso no puede ser en la ley”.

Otro tema que pidieron a la Congresista es la creación de la Unidad de Atención Integral a Poblaciones de la Diversidad Sexual y Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes que requieran atención especializada en endocrinología, que responda a la necesidad de las minorías sociales, como la población trans, a fin de realizar su proceso de transición bajo vigilancia médica, sin poner en peligro su vida y salud.

US: Pennsylvania’s governor signs bill subjecting people with a communicable disease to harsher penalties

Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf has signed bill HB 103. HB 103 creates two new, unnecessary, and broadly applicable felony offenses and subjects people with a communicable disease, such as HIV, to harsher penalties under law. As passed, HB 103 would create two new felonies:

  1. A new third-degree felony offense for something as small as “expelling” saliva on a police officer, punishable by up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines; and
  2. A new second-degree felony offense if the person knew or “should have known” they had a reportable, communicable disease if their actions could have transmitted a communicable disease—punishable by up to TEN YEARS in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

From LGBTQ Nation – By Daniel Villarreal

Democratic governor signs law punishing HIV transmission with up to 10 years in prison

As of 2022, 35 states have outdated and discriminatory laws that criminalize HIV exposure (and predominantly punish Black people).

Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf (D) just signed a new law that makes it a felony to pass on a communicable disease when they “should have known” that they had it, the HIV Justice Network reported.Opponents of the law worry it will be used to punish people with HIV or other STDs who unknowingly transmit it to sexual partners. Such HIV criminalization laws have disproportionately been used to target Black men and other men of color.

The law, known as HB 103, punishes people with up to 7 years in prison and $15,000 in fines for “expelling” saliva, blood, or another bodily fluid onto a police officer.

While the offense, a third-degree felony, has to be “intentional,” one could see an arrestee being charged with it if they accidentally spit onto an officer while talking or bleed onto an officer during a violent arrest.

The law also charges people with a second-degree felony if they knew or “should have known” that they had a communicable disease after transmitting it to someone else. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

This not only would apply to anyone who transmits HIV; it could also apply to people who unintentionally transmit hepatitis, influenza, chickenpox, and COVID-19.

The bill has been opposed by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the Anti-defamation League of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania HIV Justice Alliance, the Positive Women’s Network-USA, the Sero Project, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Advocates for Youth, and many other groups.

“As a person living with HIV who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, the passing of HB 103 serves as a reminder that as we get closer to ending the HIV epidemic, we have a long way to go to end HIV stigma and the criminalization of people living with HIV,” said Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, Director of LGBTQ Health & Rights with Advocates for Youth.Medical professionals have said that HIV criminalization laws do nothing to stop the spread of the virus and may even encourage people not to get tested for fear that the knowledge could subject them to criminal penalties.

A 2018 Williams Institute study on HIV criminalization in Georgia found that “Black men and Black women were more likely to be arrested for HIV-related offenses than their white counterparts.” While 26 percent of HIV-related arrests were of white males, 46 percent of HIV-related arrests were of Black males.

Additionally, 11 percent of those arrested were white females, while 16 percent were Black females.As of 2022, 35 states have laws that criminalize HIV exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many of the laws were passed at a time when little was known about HIV and millions were dying from the virus.“Many of these state laws criminalize actions that cannot transmit HIV – such as biting or spitting – and apply regardless of actual transmission, or intent,” the CDC wrote.

“After more than 40 years of HIV research and significant biomedical advancements to treat and prevent HIV transmission, many state laws are now outdated and do not reflect our current understanding of HIV.”

Uganda: Mandatory testing of people under arrest is contrary to the provisions of the Patients Charter and the Constitution of Uganda

Activists warn on mandatory HIV testing of suspects

Health rights activists and lawyers have warned of evasion of privacy and confidentiality for arrested suspects once they are subjected to mandatory testing for HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
On Tuesday, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) launched a programme that will see all arrested suspects, who will be detained in the pilot 16 police stations around the Kampala Metropolitan Area, subjected to mandatory screening for HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.

This, according to the office of the DPP, is aimed ensuring the right to health for employees of the criminal justice system, victims of crime and suspects.
But the president of the Uganda Law Society, Mr Bernard Oundo, yesterday warned that despite government having the mandate to protect its citizens against certain killer diseases, it has to do so with an enabling piece of legislation.

Ms Esther Dhafa, the programme officer for strategic litigation at Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, warned that the move is contrary to the provisions of the Patients Charter and the Constitution.
“Every patient has a right to be given adequate and accurate information about diagnostic procedures to be conducted on them, and the proposed treatment to enable them make an informed decision,” Ms Dhafa cautioned.
Ms Dhafa added that even after the mandatory tests are conducted, the safety and confidentiality of the information regarding one’s status is not guaranteed and could end up in wrong hands.

Likewise, another health rights activists, Mr Gracias Atwiine Germany, said the programme is a setback in in the fight against HIV/Aids.
“Forced disclosure and testing of people living with different health conditions will escalate stigma and discrimination,” Mr Atwiine said.
However, last evening, Ms Jacquelyn Okui, the spokesperson of the office of the DPP, said the only mandatory tests should be for TB and malaria and not HIV/Aids.
“The tests for HIV shall not be mandatory. However, suspects of crime will be encouraged to undergo testing for both their benefit and the benefit of others in the criminal justice system,” she said.

US: Indiana bipartisan legislative panel unanimously recommends scrapping most of the state’s HIV criminalisation laws

Indiana Panel Recommends Repealing HIV Penalties

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Members of a bipartisan legislative panel on Tuesday said Indiana’s HIV laws are unnecessarily discriminatory and don’t accomplish anything.

The general assembly convenes interim study committees every year to look into policy matters between legislative sessions. A panel tasked with reviewing the state’s criminal code voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend lawmakers scrap most of the state’s penalties concerning people who live with HIV.

“Our understanding of HIV has changed a lot since the 1980s when this was enacted, and a lot of the testimony proved out that a lot of our current laws surrounding the criminal penalties for HIV are no longer valid,” committee chair Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, said.

Current state law makes it a felony for someone living with HIV to donate blood or semen. There also are laws requiring people with HIV to disclose their status to sexual or needle-sharing partners and imposing harsher penalties for battery involving body fluids if the accused attacker is HIV-positive. McNamara said testimony over the past few weeks revealed prosecutors rarely use such laws and there is no risk of transmission when someone is taking their required viral suppression medications. Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said Indiana law does not penalize people with other serious diseases in the same way.

“Now we have a situation where we have drugs that treat the disease. There’s actually drugs that prevent it from spreading and it’s no longer a death sentence,” he said. “So, it makes sense to change those laws.”

Lawmakers filed legislation this year to repeal several penalties, including those dealing with blood donations. The legislation passed out of a House committee, but never got a floor vote. McNamara said her panel’s endorsement could give similar legislation a boost next year. She said lawmakers would leave some penalties in place for cases where someone tried to deliberately infect another person with HIV.

Any changes to the criminal code still have to go through the legislative process. Lawmakers won’t begin debating bills until the next legislative session begins in January.