One of the government’s solutions for fighting the spread of HIV, which is to have people suspected to be knowingly spreading and infecting people with the virus arrested, under Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, has been challenged by a group.
According to the critic group, there was good progress by the state in encouraging people with HIV to come out and seek needed treatment, but if there are to be laws to have HIV positive people prosecuted, it will discourage others from coming out in public increasing the stigma against patients that has for long been fought.
This comes after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) recommended that a 42-year-old Nakuru woman who allegedly infected her neighbour’s nine-month-old baby by breastfeeding her.
The woman allegedly committed the offense in September 2018 and on 18th October 2018 the court ordered that the woman be subjected to HIV testing to establish whether or not she might have committed the offense, an order her lawyer has since appealed.
The woman was prosecuted under Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, which both the critic group and other People living with HIV (PLWHA) want repealed, lest it takes the whole country steps backward after the progress that has already been made over the years.
“This law should be scrapped off since it makes living with the disease a crime. Making HIV positive persons potential criminal waiting for severe judgement and long jail terms,” said PLWHA.
Meanwhile, the HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act (HAPCA) states that “No person shall undertake an HIV test in respect of another person except (a) with the informed consent of that other person.”
The HAPCA act means that one should only go for HIV test when they understand why it is done, the risks involved and the consequences.
PLWHA group therefore thinks that the sexual offence act Section 26, which stated that any person, who having actual knowledge that they are infected with HIV or any other life threatening sexually transmitted disease and does anything to another party in full knowledge that they will become infected, shall be guilty of an offence whether or not they are married to the second party or not.
The state, in its defense, has said that before a law is put into place, it is usually weighed to see not only its purpose but also its effect.
According to the state, the critics are wrong to think that the state’s intention was to victimize and infringe the privacy of people living with HIV, and think of it as the most effective way to curb intentional spreading of the virus.
The case in which the government was challenged to scrap off the sexual offences law is still pending in the High Court.