File Photo: Egyptian criminal court (Photo: AFP)
An Egyptian woman has been awarded a massive compensation of EGP 1 million ($64,000) after contracting AIDS from her husband, in what her lawyer said is a first in the conservative country.
"This is the first time an Egyptian court rules for a compensation over AIDS transfer between a husband and a wife in Egypt," lawyer Omar Gohar told Ahram Online on Suday
The decision by a court in the Nile delta governorate of Beheira two days ago came after the lawyer presented a medical certificate proving that the husband was already infected with the virus four months before marriage.
The court also ordered the husband to pay for the wife's monthly treatment expenses, Gohar said.
The court said that it ruled in favour of the wife because the husband did not inform her about his condition before the marriage despite being aware that he had contracted the virus.
The wife, 23, discovered she was infected with the virus during a routine pregnancy follow-up exam three months into her marriage. She also said that her child was infected with the disease.
The disease remains a touchy subject in the conservative Muslim-majority country, with many reluctant to come forward out of fear of social stigma.
Egypt is one of the countries with the lowest prevalence of HIV in the world, with the number of people infected with the virus averaging 0.02 percent of the population, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in 2018.
According to Egypt's National AIDS Programme, around 2,470 new infection cases were identified in 2018, 13 percent of which were females.
The lawyer said the suit, which was filed in mid-2019, called for a compensation of EGP 2 million, but the court granted half the amount. He also affirmed that such cases are not uncommon but do not reach the courts due to the sensitivity of the matter.
While the husband could face a prison term under the Egyptian penal code, Gohar said the wife and her family are not considering filing a criminal case against him at this time.
Gohar urged couples to undergo medical tests before marriage to ensure that they healthy and prepared for marriage.
Egypt has formulated a new strategy for 2018-2022, adopting global targets for the prevention and treatment of HIV. The main focus of the strategy is on increased testing and ensuring access to healthcare and follow-up until the virus is fully suppressed.