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African HIV criminalisation achievements and challenges highlighted at ICASA 2013

11 Dec 2013
The African continent has more countries with overly broad and vague HIV-specific laws relating to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and/or transmission than any other global region, nearly all of which have been enacted in the past decade. Although North America is … More

Africa: HIV Laws Do More Harm Than Good by Miriam Mannak (IPS)

06 Aug 2009
I received an email last week from Miriam Mannak, a freelance writer based in Cape Town, South Africa who keeps on blog on AIDS in Africa. She recently contributed this excellent piece on the spectre of criminalisation on her continent … More

Africa’s criminal HIV transmission laws are highly inefficient, says Justice Michael Kirby

16 Jul 2008
Australia’s most eloquent and insightful High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, spoke at the International Criminal Law Reform conference in Dublin yesterday, arguing that the move to criminalise HIV transmission in sub-Saharan countries such as Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, … More

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Specific laws

Specific law enacted Yes

2005 - Based on Model Law

Specific law criminalising HIV non disclosure, exposure, or transmission: Yes

Prosecuted using non-HIV specific laws: No

Prosecuted using both specific and non specific laws: No

Is non-disclosure actionable: No

Is exposure actionable: No

Is transmission actionable: No


Applicable laws

Guinea is a model law country which introduced a version of the N' Djamena ‘model' law in July 2006.

Applicable key wording

In the law from Guinea, the basic crime of "wilful HIV transmission" arises out of both Article 35 (which makes transmission through sex or blood an offence) and the underlying definition in Article 1 of the term "wilful HIV transmission." The definition appears to include not only those circumstances in which the virus is actually transmitted through HIV-contaminated substances, but also any exposure to such substances regardless of the consequences. This definition also appears to impose criminal liability, for transmission and even for exposure, without regard to:
a) whether the person knew she or he had HIV or was aware of the risk of transmission;
b) the actual risk of transmission associated with the activity;
c) whether the PLHIV disclosed to the other person, or the other person was aware in some way of the HIV infection;
d) whether the person took any steps to reduce the risk of transmission (e.g., condom use, other safe practices, cleaning of drug injecting equipment); and
e) whether in the circumstances the PLHIV had control over the degree of risk (e.g., use by husband or partner of a condom).
The definition of "HIV transmission" in some laws (e.g. Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger) include mother-to-child transmission (MTCT): Certain definitions of "HIV transmission" refer explicitly to MTCT; others would appear to include MTCT as a form of transmission by way of blood. Because such definitions could be determinative in establishing the offence of "wilful HIV transmission," these laws appear to establish that MTCT is a criminal offence.

Further reading

Information for Guinea can be found on the Criminal HIV Transmission Blog
Analysis of the N'Djamena model legislation by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Article in the HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review on problematic HIV legislation in Western Africa

Latest cases and news can be found at:

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017