Australia Tasmania

Last updated on: 25 April 2012

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Australia Tasmania
Whether Specific law enacted: 
No
Number of people prosecuted: 
1 (under public health law)
Number of people convicted: 
1 (under public health law)
Applicable law: 

HIV/AIDS Preventive Measures Act 1993

Public Health Act 1997

Criminal Code Act 1924

Key wording in the law: 

Criminal Code Act 1924: grievous bodily harm

Key Cases: 

See: Man faces HIV infection charges August 30, 2011 and Man jailed over HIV sex October 26, 2011.

Discussion: 

HIV/AIDS Preventive Measures Act 1993(s 20)

(1) A person who is and is aware of being infected with HIV or is carrying and is aware of carrying HIV antibodies must:

  1. take all reasonable measures and precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV to others; and
  2. inform in advance any sexual contact or person with whom needles are shared of that fact.

Maximum penalty: a fine of up to $10 000 or 1 year imprisonment.

(2) A person who is and is aware of being infected with HIV or who is carrying and is aware of carrying HIV antibodies must not knowingly or recklessly place another person at risk of becoming infected with HIV unless that other person knew that fact and voluntarily accepted the risk of being infected.

Public Health Act 1997 (s51) Transmitting disease

1) A person who is aware of having a notifiable disease –

  • a) must take all reasonable measures and precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease; and
  • b) must not knowingly or recklessly place another person at risk of contracting the disease.

Penalty: Fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

(2) It is a defence in any proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) for a person to prove that the other person knew of, and voluntarily accepted, the risk of getting the disease.

Criminal Code Act 1924(s170) Acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm or prevent apprehension

(1)Any person who, with intent to maim, disfigure, or disable any person, or to do any grievous bodily harm to any person, or to resist or prevent the lawful arrest or detention of any person –

  1. wounds or does any actual bodily harm to any person by any means whatever;

is guilty of a crime.

Criminal Code Act 1924(s172) Wounding or causing grievous bodily harm

Any person who unlawfully wounds or causes grievous bodily harm to any person by any means whatever is guilty of a crime.

Maximum penalty: 21 years imprisonment. 

It is possible that the criminal law provisions outlined above could be used to charge a HIV-positive person for transmitting HIV to another person, although no such prosecutions are known to have taken place.