Last updated on: 29 June 2012

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Whether Specific law enacted: 
Number of people prosecuted: 
Number of people convicted: 
At least 2
Applicable law: 

Relevant Penal Codes of Estonia:

§118, 119 and 121 – causing health damage to someone.

§141 – rape.

This is not a HIV-specific law.

Only actual transmission is subject to prosecution.

Sentences range from a fine through to 15 years imprisonment.

Key wording in the law: 

§118. Causing of Severe Health Damage.

Causing of health damage to someone else is penalised with 4-12 years in jail, if it is causing a threat to someone’s life, severe physical disease, severe psychological disorder, discontinuance of pregnancy, a severe injury deforming significantly someone’s face or loss of an organ or its functioning.

§119. Causing of Severe Health Damage out of Negligence

Causing of severe health damage to someone else out of negligence is penalized with a fine or up to one year in jail.

§121. Physical abuse

Damaging the health of someone else, hitting, kicking or other form of physical abuse causing pain is penalised with fine or up to three years in jail.

§141. Raping

Having sexual intercourse with someone against her/his will or abusing her/his condition where he/she was not capable of understanding what is happening or expressing resistance is penalised with one to five years in jail. The same act is penalised with 6-15 years in jail, if the victim is under 18 years old, if the act is carried out by two or more people, if the act has caused the victim a severe health damage or the death of the victim, if the act has driven the victim to suicide or suicide attempt or if the act has been carried out by a person, who has previously already committed a rape.


From the responses received, it appears that precise information is not available for the number of people prosecuted for transmitting HIV in Estonia. However, the Ministry of Justice has previously reported having knowledge of two people being convicted prior to 2004. Whilst Information is kept for prosecutions and convictions of all people tried under the above laws, no separate HIV specific statistics are kept.

Our survey respondent reported that the only mentioning of HIV that they could find in recent years concerned a trial that took place in June 2007.  However that trial primarily concerned a robbery in which the defendant threatened the victim with assult by an HIV infected needle.  The outcome is unknown.

The two people for whom information is available for convictions were both men; one Egyptian and one Estonian. No information was provided about occupations of the people convicted.

Only actual transmission of HIV to another person is subject to prosecution.

Transmission of other sexually transmitted infections is subject to prosecution under the same laws.

Survey respondents/Organisations working on HIV and the Law: 

 Estonian Network of PLWHIV 

Further reading: 

Elektroonilise Riigi Teataja is a searchable database of the Riigi Teataja (the State Gazette) - Estonian language only. It is a free to use official resource that provides the details of current legislation on all subject matters on any given date. It is available at:

The Estonian Network of People Liviing With HIV has a online website in Estonian, Russian & English language versions and provides useful links.

Other laws and policies with an impact on responses to HIV

Laws and regulations relating to entry, stay or residence in the country: 

There are no restrictions for people living with HIV and AIDS. There are no specific legal regulations concerning people with AIDS.

Neither a medical certificate nor an HIV test result is required when entering the country. Foreigners with a known HIV infection are not subject to specific residence regulations. There are no regulations regarding the control, deportation or expulsion of those concerned.

Carrying antiretroviral medication for personal use: There is a regulation, currently only published in Estonian language: Quantities are limited. Importing larger quantities requires a permit by the State Agency of Medicines, . To grant a permit, the Agency requires the following information: patient name, quantities, pharmaceutical formulation, size and number of packagings and a doctor’s prescription. 

For updated information, please go to:

Laws relating to same sex, sexual relations: 

Male to Male relationships: Legal

Punishments for male to male relationships:  No law

Female to Female Relationships: Legal

Age of consent:  Equal for heterosexuals and homosexuals

Marriage and Substitutes for Marriage: No law

For updated information, please go to: