In some African countries such as Botswana, Nigeria, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire it is a criminal offence to intentionally transmit HIV/AIDS to another person.
However, Zimbabwe recently broke off the list when it repealed the law under section 79 of the Criminal Law Code that criminalized the transmission of HIV from one person to another knowingly or unknowingly.
The decision was welcomed by International Organisations such as the UNAIDS which believed that the law rendered the fight against HIV ineffective by discouraging people from being tested or seeking appropriate treatment when infected in addition to limiting their ability to access preventive services.
Commenting on the repealed law, The Fatboy Show presenter Olive Najjuma said that she had mixed feelings about the country’s decision saying that one may have sex outside marriage and later spread it to their partner sometimes unknowingly but also in some instances when they know.
However , her co-host James Onen commonly known as Fatboy argued that in a relationship, it is the responsibility of each partner to know the status of their partner in the event that they decide to have unprotected sex they are aware of the repercussions.
“When it comes to knowingly infecting someone, there has to be an element of malice involved because let's not forget the element of personal responsibility. In the same way we are mindful about what we eat, whether or not we exercise, so it is when we decide to have sex with somebody where its upto us to have unprotected sex with someone or to demand for proof of HIV status so that when its not provided, the mission is aborted,” he said.
But Olive explained that in marriages, there’s an understanding of monogamy in that when a partner commits adultery, contracts HIV and deliberately sleeps with their partner, failure to punish them seems unjust.
“Usually when you're in a monogamous marriage, you want to believe that your partner is sleeping with you alone. Now in the event that they sleep out, contract HIV and get to know that they have it and continue to sleep with their partner, shouldn't that be criminalized?” she questioned.
Fatboy said that sometimes the partner might be waiting for a second test to confirm whether or not they have HIV in case they had tested positive the first time and don't want to prematurely make a conclusion that might sabotage the relationship.
Although Olive proposed abstinence, she recalled that the other partner might demand their conjugal rights and the other spouse may not have a proper explanation to give.
Nevertheless, Fatboy held that transmitting HIV knowingly or unknowingly shouldn't be criminalized but rather it should be taken as a social issue that needs people to be educated about the risks and preventive measures they can take to avoid catching or transmitting the virus.
President Museveni signed into law the HIV and AIDS control bill in August, 2014 which criminalises the intentional or willful decision to spread HIV/ AIDS to another person and is punishable upon conviction with a sentence of upto 10 years and a fine of up to 4.8 million shillings.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive and Sarah every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.