Viral load will be no defence against prosecution for HIV exposure or transmission in Norway

HIV campaigners reacted with dismay today to the issuing of a report by a Norwegian Commission on HIV and the Law which, while making one significant concession in the shape of allowing condom use as a defence, in some other ways strengthens the options the state has to prosecute individuals who infect, or expose others to, HIV.

Until now individuals were prosecuted in Norway under a 1902 law intended to be used against people who negligently or deliberately spread contagious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) but which has, in practice, only ever been used in cases involving HIV, and only since 1991, apart from one isolated case in the 1930s.

A coalition of HIV activists had campaigned for the law to be revised, hoping that an examination of the law would lead to it restricting HIV transmission prosecutions to clearly deliberate ones or at least only to transmission rather than exposure, as has happened in some other countries such the Netherlands and Denmark – which suspended prosecutions under its own criminal code last year. The occasion to do this was prompted by a revision of the 1902 act, the legislative framework for which was voted through in 2005.

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