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Law said to discriminate against HIV sufferers

A study has found that Swiss courts do not treat fairly cases of HIV-positive people who knowingly infect sexual partners.

This content was published on September 23, 2009 - 10:23

With the support of Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Aids Federation, two researchers Kurt Pärli and Peter Mösch Payot examined 39 cases dealt with by cantonal and federal courts.

In the vast majority, those who engaged in unprotected sex with an infected person were aware of their partner's health status. However, under the law, the HIV sufferer is fully culpable for transmitting the disease.

Of the 39 cases of deliberate infection from 1990 to the present, 36 took place with the informed consent of the victim. Some 86 per cent of these involved heterosexual couples.

Switzerland, along with Sweden and Austria, has the highest incidence of such criminal proceedings.

The authors concluded that judicial practice was leading to discrimination against HIV-positive defendants in making them solely responsible for potentially infecting others.

This practice is contrary to Swiss Aids prevention policy which places equal responsibility on both sexual partners.

In cases where Article 231 of the penal code were applied (infecting a person with a disease) the penalty varied from two to four-year prison sentences. Pärli and Mösch Payot have called for this article to be withdrawn.

swissinfo.ch

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