The Islamic Fiqh Academy discussed this issue during its ninth session. After reviewing researches submitted to it in that regard, the Academy decided that people inflected with AIDS are not to be isolated or kept in quarantine, for this disease is not infectious in terms of casual contact with others. However, it is to be born in mind that if the infected person tried to infect someone else on purpose, the laws of retribution would be applied to him. Furthermore, the Academy regards AIDS as a disease leading to death, and it emphasizes that it is one of the wife’s rights to ask for divorce if her husband is infected with it.
The statement issued by The Islamic Fiqh Academy regarding AIDS states: After reviewing the researches submitted to it concerning Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS and resolution 82 (13th of August) regarding that issue, and after listening to the discussions held in that respect, the Islamic Fiqh Academy decided on the following:
First, with respect to isolating the people inflected with AIDS in quarantines:
Medical information emphasizes that AIDS is not transferred to others by means of casual contact. A normal day-to-day handshake, breathing the same air or eating food prepared by someone infected with AIDS do not involve any risk of transmission of HIV. Also a mosquito bite or using toilet seats or the same swimming pool do not involve any risk of transmission.
Infection takes place in one of the following ways:
1. Having sex with an infected person.
2. Sharing intravenous needles, which are injected directly from one person’s bloodstream into another’s also involves risk of transmission of the HIV- this is the reason why many intravenous drug users have become infected. Likewise, using razors used by a person infected with AIDS involves risk of transmission.
3. Blood transfusion in which a large amount of blood is transferred from one person to another also involves risk of transmission of the disease.
4. Infected pregnant women [can] transfer the disease to their children either during the pregnancy or delivery. [According to a medic report, an HIV positive woman can transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and through breastfeeding. If she takes no preventive drugs and breastfeeds then the chance of her baby becoming infected is around 20-45%.]
Based on the above information, there is no need to isolate people infected with AIDS in quarantines. They should be treated within the framework recommended by medical specialists.
Secondly, with regard to intentionally transmitting the disease to others:
It is completely forbidden to intentionally attempt to transmit HIV virus to others in any way. This is a major sin that also incurs a worldly punishment. The severity of the punishment depends on the gravity of the deed and its impact on individuals and society.
If a person intentionally tries to spread the HIV virus in the society, this is considered a kind of mischief and corruption that incurs one of the punishments referred to in Almighty Allah’s words: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”. (Al-Ma’idah 5: 33)
If a person’s aim was to transmit the virus to a certain person, and the person in question became infected with the disease but he did not yet die, the criminal would be punished with a deterrent punishment [other than the death sentence]. Then, if the infected person died, the case would be reconsidered to apply the death sentence.
If a person failed in his attempt to transmit the disease to another, he would be punished with a deterrent punishment.
Thirdly, concerning a woman, who is infected with AIDS aborting her child:
Since the disease is [or can be] transmitted from the infected mother to her child after the soul is infused in it or during delivery, it is not lawful to abort the child.
Fourthly, regarding an infected mother’s custody of her healthy child and breast-feeding it:
Medical information states that there is no risk involved of the disease being transmitted when an infected mother looks after her healthy child and breast-feeds it. Hence, there is nothing wrong in giving custody of a healthy child to his infected mother or allowing her to breast-feed the baby, unless there is a medical report to the contrary. [According to the medical report we referred to above, an HIV positive woman can transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and through breastfeeding.. Therefore, we think that an HIV positive woman can take care of her child, but she should consult medical experts regarding breastfeeding.]
Fifthly, with respect to giving a healthy spouse the right to ask for divorce when the other party is infected with HIV:
Considering that sex is one of the main causes of transmission of the disease, a healthy wife whose husband is infected with AIDS has the right to demand divorce.
Sixthly, regarding AIDS as a disease leading to death:
the Academy regards AIDS as a disease leading to death, especially in its final stages when the infected person is unable to do normal daily activities.
the Academy recommends the following:
First, the discussion on the spouses’ right to have sex in spite of being infected with the disease is to be postponed until research in this area has been completed.
Secondly, it is necessary to continue to make sure, during the Hajj season, whether there are pilgrims, who are infected with epidemic diseases, especially AIDS.