London hands down first HIV infection criminal sentence

Angela D’Amboise | April 07, 2006

LONDON — In a first for London, the Isleworth Crown Court has convicted a gay man of recklessly and knowingly transmitting HIV to his partner.

The 47-year-old, who has yet to be named in the press, was convicted earlier this week after a court found him guilty of knowing he was HIV positive and not telling his 37-year-old partner while they continued to sleep with each other.

According to Gay.com.UK, the couple continued to have unprotected sex with each other even after having a discussion about HIV status. At the time, the 47-year-old refused to admit he was HIV positive.

His partner, who is now also HIV positive, said he had no clue he was at risk until he learned about his partner’s HIV status from a friend.

Earlier, press reports had indicated the man planned to enter a not guilty plea. That was changed at the last minute, according to Gay.com.UK, when the man admitted to grievous bodily harm.

West London officers present at the hearing told members of the press they were satisfied with the decision.

"He is a callous, individual who has behaved in an unfaithful way,” Detective Con Elliot Toms told the UK’s Mirror. “He gave us no indication as to his intent or motivation.”

HIV activist groups in the UK have long fought against convicting HIV positive people on the grounds they’ve knowingly infected someone. According to Gay.com.UK, organizations fear such convictions will stop people from getting tested and criminalize HIV.

”We're extremely concerned at the way cases are currently being brought and investigated and are working as closely as we can with the Crown Prosecution Service and the police,” Lisa Power, Head of Policy at HIV activist group Terrence Higgins Trust, told Gay.com.UK Wednesday. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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