Last updated on: 28 July 2015

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Whether Specific law enacted: 
Number of people prosecuted: 
Number of people convicted: 
Applicable law: 

The following sections of the Icelandic General Penal Code are thought to be applicable: 

Nº 19/1940, Sections 175 and 220(4).
Nº 19/1997 on Communicable Diseases, Section III Article 7.

  • This is not an HIV-specific law.
  • Both exposure and transmission are subject to prosecution.
  • Sentences range from a fine through to 4 years imprisonment.
Key wording in the law: 

Unofficial English language translations:

Nº 19/1940:

Section 175:Anyone who brings about the danger that a contagious disease originates or spreads among the public by violating legal instructions respecting protection against contagious diseases or precautionary rulings by the authorities relating thereto shall be subject to imprisonment for up to 3 years. The penalty may, however, become imprisonment for up to 6 years in case of a disease, which the authorities have made special arrangements to obstruct or prevent from reaching this Country.

In case an offence in accordance with the present Article is committed inadvertently, this will be subject to fines or imprisonment for up to 6 months.

Section 220(4):
Imprisonment for up to 4 years shall be imposed on any person who, for motives of gain, or in a frivolous manner or in another irresponsible manner, places the lives or health of others in evident danger.

Nº 19/1997 on Communicable Diseases:

Section III.  General measures against communicable disease

1. Obligations of the individual Art. 7. It is incumbent upon everyone to take all precautions against communicable disease, and to do one’s best avoid to infecting oneself or others, as far as possible.


2015 Update: Thanks to the HIV Justice Network we have been alerted to the fact of a potential prosecution  on the horizon. A media report can be accessed here

Up until 2015 from responses recieved to surveys and questionnirres: it appears no one has been prosecuted for transmission of HIV in Iceland. However, in 1987 an HIV-positive man was placed in preventive custody. He had assaulted hospital staff and threatened to infect them with the virus by biting them. Therefore, a judge ruled that the man should be placed in preventive custody on grounds of public safety. The judge referred to the aforementioned section 220(4) of the General Penal Code.

The Ministry of Justice cited the first two laws as the ones applicable, but the Icelandic Centre for Infectious Diseases added the 1997 Act to the list. The 1997 Act also gives powers to the authorities to isolate anyone who does not follow the rules on contact with others.

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

Survey respondents/Organisations working on HIV and the Law: 

The Icelandic Human Rights Center, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs.



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 with HIV/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.

Antiretroviral medication can be carried for personal use (quantity limited to 100 days of supply). It is mandatory to carry a prescription. Additional medication can be shipped from EU countries (accompanied by a 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: Recognized on national level

For updated information, please go to: