Despite generally positive relationships with HIV clinic staff, men living with HIV in Sweden report that when it comes to rules regarding disclosure and legal obligations, clinicians were not always clear with patients regarding the meaning of undetectability and whether or not they still needed to disclose or use condoms. Men often needed to seek out other sources in order to find this crucial information, according to a recent qualitative study published in AIDS Care by Tobias Herder and Professor Anette Agardh at Lund University.
According to the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act of 2004, HIV infection is classified as a public health hazard. It stipulates that an HIV-positive individual needs to be given written rules of conduct by the treating physician after diagnosis. These standardised rules outline the patient’s obligations, including disclosure of HIV status to sexual partners and using methods to minimise transmission, such as condoms.
In 2013, in accordance with results of the HPTN 052 study, the National Board of Health and Welfare issued a clarification that allowed physicians to exempt those with an undetectable viral load from disclosing their status to sexual partners.
In June 2018 the Supreme Court acquitted an HIV-positive man who did not disclose his status to his sexual partner. He was charged with exposing his partner to the risk of serious illness. However, the Court ruled that stable HIV treatment, with a maintained undetectable viral load, leads to no risk of infection and therefore the man did not need to disclose.