Background to prosecution and the law


You may have heard about prosecutions for HIV transmission that have happened in England, Scotland and Wales. Some people have been found guilty and sent to prison.

For people with HIV this can raise a number of questions. We’ll try to explain the law as simply as possible, answering some of the most common questions.

This information is not a substitute for expert legal advice.

If you are involved in a prosecution, particularly if you are being prosecuted, it’s extremely important to speak to a professional. You can contact THT Direct for a referral.

In this section


Has anyone been prosecuted for reckless transmission in the UK?


Some people in the UK have been prosecuted for reckless transmission, not just for HIV but also for sexual transmission of other infections – for example, hepatitis B and C.

We’re focusing on HIV, which is still the subject of nearly all investigations and prosecutions. However, much of the advice applies equally to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

We don't think it’s useful to prosecute people for any transmission that’s not intentional. 

Despite that, we aim to provide an objective account of the law and give advice on this topic.

We have helped many people on all sides of cases to negotiate their way through complex situations and get emotional support. We’re here for everyone who has HIV or STIs, or is at risk of getting them.

The law in Scotland


The law is different in Scotland from that in England and Wales, but prosecutions have happened in all three countries. However, in most cases much of the process is similar. Where things differ we’ll make that clear.

For example, in England and Wales you can only be prosecuted if you have actually passed on HIV. In Scotland, you can also be prosecuted for putting someone at risk through unprotected sex.

Legal developments


The information in these web pages was correct at the time of writing. The legal situation around transmission of HIV is evolving with each court case, and information should be checked for accuracy in light of most recent developments.