Is HIV transmission a crime

In 2012, a German pop singer Nadja Benaissa was in court in Germany for the charge of grievous bodily harm. She was accused of having unprotected sex with her partners whilst knowing she was HIV positive. Do you think this makes her a criminal?

News reports on the verdict
Dr Matthew Weait
School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Now read these articles before discussing the questions that follow:

  • How do you react to this case?
  • What reasons can you give for Nadja not telling her partners about her HIV status?
  • To what extent was it her partners’ responsibility as much as Nadja’s to practice safer sex?

The laws in the UK are different to those in Germany. In England and Wales HIV has been criminalised under the Offences Against the Persons Act (OAPA) from 1861 and in Scotland as a common law offence under 'culpable and reckless conduct'.

Now look at the following statements. Which do you think true and false?

The short film Verdict on a Virus goes into more detail about some of these issues from a UK perspective. Some extracts are included in the first clip below.

As you watch these two clips, try to make a note of the main points you agree and disagree with.
Extract from Verdict on a Virus
Tom Perry
Policy & Campaigns Officer, National AIDS Trust
Rosemary Gillespie
Chief Executive, Terence Higgins Trust