Australian HIV+ man faces 115 sex-related charges

Anthony Cuesta | August 11, 2006

SYDNEY — An HIV-positive Australian man whose sexual conquests allegedly infected at least five men, intentionally contracted the deadly virus, a court was told Monday.

Michael John Neal, 48, faces 115 charges relating to sex with 16 men while knowingly infected with the HIV virus, reports the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

According to The Telegraph, a doctor subpoenaed to give evidence in a pre-committal hearing Monday told Melbourne Magistrates Court Neal had a �condom phobia� and frequently engaged in unprotected anal sex with various partners before he was diagnosed.

Dr Stephen Rowles, a HIV specialist with Centre Clinic in St Kilda, told The Telegraph that Neal had unprotected sex with three partners in a week in October 1999.

At a doctor's appointment shortly afterwards, Neal told Rowles he wanted to contract HIV.

The only explanation given in court, reports The Telegraph, was that the virus would enable Neal to have unprotected sex.

�(He) wants to become HIV positive sometimes so he can have unprotected anal intercourse,� Rowles told the court.

Neal was earlier prescribed the performance-enhancing drug, Viagra, to help him combat a "condom phobia' and sexual dysfunction, the court was told.

Rowles described Neal's behaviour as reckless, destructive and risky, and said a �Prince Albert� piercing on the defendant's genitals would have heightened the risk of HIV transmission.

�He was acting in a reckless way about safe sex,� Rowles said.

Neal was diagnosed with HIV in June 2000.

The Telegraph reports that three doctors were ordered Monday to give evidence about Neal's medical history at a compulsory examination of witnesses hearing.

Doctors are normally protected from giving evidence under the privilege of doctor-patient confidentiality.

According to The Telegraph, Dr Nicholas Medland, who also practises at Centre Clinic, told the court Neal had unprotected sex with one of his patients in June 2001�a year after he was diagnosed with HIV.

The patient was unaware of his HIV status, he said.

Medland told the court he warned Neal he was required to inform the health department if the defendant continued having unprotected sex.

�My recollection is that he undertook to discuss his HIV status with the other person,� Dr Medland said.

Medland told the court Neal was receiving treatment to suppress the HIV virus which would have significantly reduced the chances of infecting others.

However, he never would have advised the patient �that unprotected sex was safe�.

The Telegraph reports that Neal is facing 115 charges including five counts of intentionally causing a very serious disease, as well as rape, possessing and producing child pornography and committing an indecent act in the presence of a child under 16. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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