The HIV and Aids Tribunal has ruled that a man must pay Sh850,000 in general damages for disclosing another person’s HIV status through a comment on a political WhatsApp group. The disclosure led to stigmatization and discrimination against the person whose status was revealed. The Tribunal has also ordered the man to refrain from disclosing, discriminating, stigmatizing, or harassing the individual in question.
The Tribunal found that the man’s actions violated the provisions of the HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act (HAPCA). Without consent, he disclosed the HIV status, whether real or perceived, of the person to other members of the WhatsApp group.
The Tribunal took into consideration the testimony of the affected individual, who stated that the disclosure caused his wife to sleep in a separate bedroom and people in his local church to avoid sitting next to him. The Tribunal ruled that the person suffered discrimination and stigmatization as a result.
In addition to the damages, the Tribunal directed the man to pay Sh3,000 for counseling costs incurred the affected individual. The case involved members of a political WhatsApp group, where the man publicly alleged that the individual was HIV positive in retaliation for a divergent political opinion.
The affected individual testified that he privately requested the man to stop making false allegations about his HIV status in various WhatsApp groups but received an unapologetic response. He also faced discrimination and mockery within the group and other social forums.
The Tribunal emphasized that a person’s HIV status is private and should not be disclosed without consent. It clarified that the status, whether real or perceived, is protected the law, even if the person disclosing it is unaware of the actual status.
Despite being served, the man against whom the claim was made did not respond or appear in the case. The Tribunal proceeded in his absence.