Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Specific laws

Specific law enacted No

Specific law criminalising HIV non disclosure, exposure, or transmission: No

Prosecuted using non-HIV specific laws: No

Prosecuted using both specific and non specific laws: No

Is non-disclosure actionable: No

Is exposure actionable: Yes

Is transmission actionable: Yes


Number of prosecutions 0


Number of convictions 0


Applicable laws

Penal Code 1981 

Applicable key wording

Penal Code 1981 (s 107) Intentional Assault; (s 108) Unintentional Harm


Section 107 Intentional Assault

No person shall commit intentional assault on the body of another person.


(a) if no physical damage is caused, imprisonment for 3 months;

(b) if damage of a temporary nature is caused, impisonment for 1 year;

(c) if damage of a permanent nature is caused, imprisonment for 5 years;

(d) if the damage caused results in death, although the offender did not intend to cause such death, imprisonment for 10 years.

Section 108 Unintentional Harm

No person shall unintentionally cause damage to the body of another person, through recklessness or negligence, or failure to observe any law.


(a) if the damage so caused is purely temporary, imprisonment for 3 months;

(b) if the damage so caused is permanent, imprisonment for 2 years;

(c) if the damage so caused results in death, imprisonment for 5 years.

The offences of intentional and unintentional harm causing permanent damage under the Penal Code are sufficient for prosecuting an offence of wilful transmission. In each of these offences, the damage caused is of a permanent nature, and death may already have resulted by the time the charge is brought. The year-and-a-day rule is found at S.111.

A 2009 Journal of South Pacific Law article[1] noted that Vanuatu still has no legally enforceable Public Health Act; though two attempts had been made to pass Public Health Acts.

The Public Health Act of 1994 made reference to HIV/AIDS by including it in the definition of notifiable diseases in schedule 1. Article 11,which deals with notifiable diseases provides for compulsory testing on any person suspected with the disease. Similarly, Article 13 provides for infected people to notify owners of premises such as shops and buses of their notifiable disease status before entering these premises or vehicles. Only parts of this Act have ever been gazetted, however, and the sections relating to notifiable diseases have yet to come into force.

A draft Public Health Act 2000 made specific reference to HIV, especially Sections 13 to 23, including a duty for a HIV-positive person to inform sexual partner of her or his HIV status.  However, due to lack of political support the Bill has not been passed by Parliament.

[1]Mae P (2009). Medical Confidentiality and the Public Disclosure of HIV Status. Journal of South Pacific Law, Vol 13, Issue 1.




Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017

Last reviewed 01 June 2017