The HIV and AIDS Tribunal has ruled that a man must pay Sh850,000 in general damages for sharing the alleged HIV status of a friend via a comment within a political WhatsApp group.
The Tribunal determined that the actions of the accused, identified in case documents as FO, constituted a breach of the HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act (HAPCA). He was found to have illicitly disclosed Mr. PMM’s status, whether factual or perceived, to third parties who were participants in the WhatsApp group without proper authorization.
PMM had informed the court that he and FO were members of the same political WhatsApp group associated with a political party’s team in the Western region.
He recounted that on July 3, 2022, during a political discourse within the WhatsApp group, he shared a comment that contrasted with FO’s perspective on the prospective winner of a constituency’s parliamentary seat.
In response, PMM stated that the respondent retaliated by publicly sharing a comment on the WhatsApp group, asserting that he was HIV positive. The post was visible to all group members and subsequently led to suffering stigma and a loss of dignity.
PMM said he chose to send a private message to the respondent, urging him to cease the insults and refrain from making false allegations about his HIV status in multiple political WhatsApp groups. However, the respondent remained unapologetic for his behavior.
Mr. PMM informed the tribunal that he faced discrimination within the group and other similar groups, where certain individuals engaged in ridicule and discussions regarding his HIV status.
The claimant also noted that he is currently undergoing counseling to address these issues.
The respondent did not formally respond or present himself in the case, despite being properly served with the claim. As a result, the proceedings continued in his absence.
In its ruling, the tribunal acknowledged that it had previously established that an individual’s HIV status is a personal matter and should not be revealed to third parties without the concerned person’s consent, as stipulated by Section 22 of the HAPCA.
“Taking into consideration the testimony of the claimant and the evidence tendered in support of his claim and the infeasibility of quantifying stigma, we do find that the claimant suffered discrimination and stigmatisation,” ruled the tribunal.