In a move hailed by human rights organizations, Kenya’s high court has ruled a section of the 2006 HIV and AIDS Prevention Act, which criminalized pregnant women who pass HIV to their babies, is unconstitutional. The law said that anyone who “knowingly and recklessly” placed another person at risk of being infected could be jailed for seven years, but the court deemed it unconstitutional because “it could be interpreted to apply to women who expose or transmit HIV to a child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.” While the law was intended to curb the spread of AIDS and HIV in Kenya, human rights groups have pointed out that it discriminates against women who often find out they are HIV-positive when they are tested during pregnancy. It has inflicted “fear, shame and punishment on countless Kenyans,” as it discourages them from being tested, and puts them at the risk of violence of rejection from their husbands. The high court is urging the Kenyan government to amend the law.
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