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UK: The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill proposes mandatory HIV testing following an alleged spitting/biting assault on frontline staff

Stabbed, Spat At, Punched: Emergency Workers Tell HuffPost UK Why New Law Is Needed To Protect Them
October 19, 2017

Stabbed, Spat At, Punched: Emergency Workers Tell HuffPost UK Why New Law Is Needed To Protect Them: Now PM backs Bill to protect 999 staff from assault

A new law to protect emergency workers from assaults has won the personal backing of Theresa May after police, paramedics and nurses lobbied MPs for tougher sentences.

A private members’ bill to specifically target abuse against 999 staff has secured the Prime Minister’s approval, HuffPost UK has been told.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, tabled by Labour MP Chris Bryant, is due to have its Second Reading in the Commons on Friday and is now expected to get enough Parliamentary time to get on the statute book.

Dubbed the ‘Protect The Protectors Law’, the bill follows a rising number of incidents where NHS, firefighters and police staff have been abused, attacked or spat at in the line of duty.

The legislation will for the first time deem assaults on emergency staff as “aggravated”, and subject to heavier sentences. It will also force suspects to provide samples of saliva or blood to ensure rapid testing of HIV and other illnesses.

Asked if the PM was giving her personal support to the bill, a No.10 spokesman told HuffPost UK: “That’s one the Government is backing, so you can take that as a ‘yes’.”

The Ministry of Justice and Home Office are expected to signal on Friday their support for the new legislation.

Backed by trade unions and staff bodies such as the Police Federation, an alliance of emergency workers held a ‘drop-in’ lobby of MPs in the Commons on Wednesday.

Bryant told HuffPost UK: “I’m really encouraged by how many MPs have come along, listened to emergency workers and said they’ll support the Bill.

“It’s not over until the votes are counted though and I’m not counting my chickens yet. All sorts of things could still go awry.”

Alan Lofthouse, national ambulance officer for the Unison trade union, said: “It’s only right that the full force of the law is used against anyone who attacks those trying to save lives and protect the public. This bill will help the courts to bring offenders to justice.”

HuffPost UK talked to five emergency workers, each with their own stories of why a new law was needed.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/theresa-may-backs-new-law-protecting-emergency-workers-from-assaults-in-line-of-duty-five-case-studies_uk_59e7b1cce4b00905bdae7e17

Italy: Prosecutors asked for life sentence and solitary confinement for man accused of alleged HIV transmission

Life sentence asked for Italian who "knowingly infected women with HIV"
October 19, 2017

Life sentence asked for Italian who “knowingly infected women with HIV”

ROME, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — Rome prosecutors have requested a life sentence for an HIV-positive man who knowingly infected 30 women through unprotected sex, local media reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors also asked he should be placed in daytime solitary confinement for two years.

Rome native Valentino Talluto, 32, is charged with malicious epidemic and aggravated bodily harm for knowingly infecting the women with the virus from when he discovered he was HIV positive in April 2006 through Nov. 23, 2015, the day prior to his arrest, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Intentionally causing an epidemic by spreading a pathogen is punishable with life in prison in the Italian criminal code.

Talluto has reportedly plead ignorance of the risks of HIV infection. The man, who met most of his alleged victims online, is also charged with the secondary infection of an eight-month-old baby, who was born with brain damage “caused by the HIV-positive state contracted from the mother during birth”, according to prosecution papers cited by ANSA.

Investigators have discovered a total of 57 incidents of unprotected sex, but believe Talluto may have directly or indirectly infected more people who have not turned to authorities, according to ANSA.

Published on XinhuaNet on Oct.18, 2017

[update]France: 54-year-old man sentenced to 6 years in jail for alleged HIV transmission

Seine–Saint–Denis: Un séropositif condamné à six ans de prison pour avoir sciemment transmis le VIH à sa compagne
October 18, 2017

Seine-Saint-Denis: HIV-positive man sentenced to six years in prison for deliberate HIV transmission to is partner

A 54-year-old Congolese who knew he was HIV positive was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison by the Assize Court of Seine-Saint-Denis for knowingly infecting his wife, who is also the mother of two children.

The man, who came to court on his own will, was accused of “deliberately administering harmful substances causing permanent disability” to his 37-year-old girlfriend: in this case, he had sexually transmitted the AIDS virus while they lived in concubinage and were even religiously married, between 2005 and 2010, in Saint-Ouen.

“I did it out of love, because I was afraid of losing her”

The woman, also of Congolese origin, had discovered his seropositivity in 2009, after the birth of their two boys, thankfully healthy. His spouse then revealed that he was also a carrier of the virus, but it was when looking through his belongings that she learnt that he had been diagnosed since 1996.

“I did it out of love, because I was afraid of losing her,” said the man, who has been legally residing in France since 1998, to explain why he had lied to her for all these years, taking his medicine secretly and pretending to suffer from a heart murmir.

“How many more will there be before he understands the scope of his actions? “

The trial was marked by the revelation that the accused had had a son with a woman encountered at about the same time as the victim. Questioned, he finally admitted that he had never inquired whether they were in good health. “How many victims were there? How many more will there be before he understands the scope of his actions? “Asked the representative of the public prosecutor’s office.

It is probable that the accused was infected by his previous wife, whom he met when he arrived in France in 1991 and who had also hidden her illness. In her speech, Me Soria Latrèche had greeted the “immense courage” of her client, who testified in court about her broken life. “She was a lively, active woman. Today, she spends her days alone at home. Her friends have turned her back on her and she does not know how to tell her children. ”

Published in 20 minutes on Oct 19, 2017

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Seine-Saint-Denis: Un séropositif condamné à six ans de prison pour avoir sciemment transmis le VIH à sa compagne

Un Congolais de 54 ans qui se savait porteur du VIH a été condamné mercredi à six ans de prison ferme par la cour d’assises de Seine-Saint-Denis pour avoir contaminé, en connaissance de cause, sa conjointe, également mère de ses deux enfants.

L’homme, qui comparaissait libre, était accusé d’avoir « volontairement administré des substances nuisibles ayant entraîné une infirmité permanente » de sa compagne, aujourd’hui âgée de 37 ans : en l’occurrence, lui avoir transmis par voie sexuelle le virus du sida alors qu’ils vivaient en concubinage et étaient même mariés religieusement, entre 2005 et 2010, à Saint-Ouen.

« Je l’ai fait par amour, parce que j’avais peur de la perdre »

Elle aussi d’origine congolaise, la victime avait découvert sa séropositivité en 2009, après la naissance des deux garçons du couple, heureusement sains. Son conjoint lui avait alors révélé qu’il était lui aussi porteur du virus, mais il avait fallu qu’elle fouille dans ses affaires pour apprendre qu’il avait été diagnostiqué dès 1996.

« Je l’ai fait par amour, parce que j’avais peur de la perdre », avait dit mardi cet homme, qui réside légalement en France depuis 1998, pour expliquer pourquoi il lui avait menti pendant toutes ces années, prenant ses médicaments en catimini et prétendant souffrir d’un souffle au cœur.

« Combien y en aura-t-il encore avant qu’il comprenne la portée de ses actes ? »

Le procès a été marqué par la révélation que l’accusé avait eu un fils avec une femme rencontrée à peu près à la même période que la victime. Pressé de questions, il avait fini par avouer qu’il ne s’était jamais enquis de savoir s’ils étaient en bonne santé. « Combien y a-t-il eu de victimes ? Combien y en aura-t-il encore avant qu’il comprenne la portée de ses actes ? », s’était interrogée la représentante du parquet général.

Il est probable que l’accusé a été infecté par sa précédente épouse, rencontrée à son arrivée en France en 1991 et qui lui avait elle aussi caché sa maladie. Dans sa plaidoirie, Me Soria Latrèche avait salué le « courage immense » de sa cliente, qui a témoigné à la barre de sa vie brisée. « C’était une femme pleine de vie, active. Aujourd’hui, elle passe ses journées seule, chez elle. Ses amis lui ont tourné le dos et elle ne sait comment l’annoncer à ses enfants. »

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Positive man in court for alleged deliberate transmission of HIV to his partner (Oct 16, 2017)

A positive man appears in court for knowingly infecting his partner (Google translation – Original article in French below)

A 54-year-old man with the AIDS virus appeared on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Court of the Seine-Saint-Denis area for knowingly contaminating his companion, with whom he had two children, and hiding his disease for 5 years. The incident took place between 2005 and 2010, and the man is accused of “deliberately administering harmful substances that resulted in permanent disability or disability” to his wife, born in 1980.

The victim shared the life of this man since 2005 when she discovered, in October 2009, that she was infected with the AIDS virus. According to her lawyer, her first reflex was to worry about her companion and the two children they had together. But when looking through his possession, she ended up discovering a medical certificate, established in 1996, and attesting to the seropositivity of her husband.

He risks fifteen years’ imprisonment

Since none of the children born in 2005 and 2007 had been infected and their mother was HIV negative at the time of delivery, it is likely that she was infected between 2007 and 2009.

Although the origin of his infection has not been not established, the accused, who was a carpenter until his dismissal in 2011, was married from 1994 to 2004 with a woman he knew to have HIV, according to his lawyer. He faces 15 years’ imprisonment.

In December 2016, a man was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by the Assize Court of the Gard area for transmitting the AIDS virus to his 16-year-old girlfriend, to whom he had hidden his HIV status from.

Published in bfmtv on Oct. 16, 2017

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Un séropositif devant la justice pour avoir sciemment contaminé sa compagne

Un homme de 54 ans atteint du virus du sida comparaît mardi et mercredi devant les assises de la Seine-Saint-Denis pour avoir sciemment contaminé sa compagne, avec laquelle il a eu deux enfants, et lui avoir caché sa maladie pendant 5 ans. Les faits se seraient déroulés entre 2005 et 2010, et l’homme est accusé d’avoir “volontairement administré des substances nuisibles ayant entraîné une mutilation ou une infirmité permanente” de sa compagne, née en 1980.

La victime partage la vie de cet homme depuis 2005 quand elle découvre, en octobre 2009, qu’elle est atteinte du virus du sida. D’après son avocate, son premier réflexe est de s’inquiéter pour son compagnon et les deux enfants qu’ils ont eus ensemble. Mais c’est en fouillant dans ses affaires qu’elle finit par découvrir un certificat médical, établi en 1996, et attestant de la séropositivité de son conjoint.

Il risque quinze ans de réclusion

Aucun des enfants du couple, nés en 2005 et 2007, n’ayant été contaminés et leur mère étant séronégative au moment de son accouchement, il est probable qu’elle ait été infectée entre 2007 et 2009.

Si l’origine de sa contamination n’est pas établie, l’accusé, qui était menuisier jusqu’à son licenciement en 2011, a été marié de 1994 à 2004 avec une femme qu’il savait atteinte du VIH, selon son avocate. Il risque 15 ans de réclusion.

En décembre 2016, un homme a été condamné à 12 ans de réclusion par la cour d’assises du Gard pour avoir transmis le virus du sida à sa compagne, alors âgée de 16 ans, à qui il avait caché sa séropositivité.

New Zealand: Does the transmission of HIV still amount to grievous bodily harm? Interview with Jason Myers, AIDS Foundation Director, on the Court of Appeal current deliberation

Is deliberately spreading HIV grievous bodily harm?
October 18, 2017

A court’s being asked to determine whether spreading HIV still amounts to causing grievous bodily harm.

A man is appealing a grievous bodily harm conviction, after a jury found him guilty of knowingly infecting his partner with HIV.

He’s arguing the disease doesn’t amount to grievous bodily harm, because it can be easily treated.

Aids Foundation executive director Jason Myers said he isn’t surprised to see a case like this before the courts.

“Back in the eighties, early nineties it was a death sentence for many people. What you’ve essentially got in 2017 is a long-term manageable chronic disease.”

Published in Newstalk ZB on Oct. 17, 2017

US: 28-year-old man arrested Florida for alleged HIV non-disclosure

Man arrested for not telling sex partners about HIV diagnosis
October 18, 2017

Man arrested for not telling sex partners about HIV diagnosis

A Lehigh Acres man was arrested Saturday accused of having HIV and not telling the people he had sex with that he was infected.

Lee County deputies said 28-year-old Jaylin Grant knew he was positive and never told his sex partners.

The warrant for his arrest, signed Friday, said he knew in October of last year that he had contracted the virus and broke the law by having intercourse with someone else without telling them.

NBC2 spoke to an HIV-positive woman who wants each case reviewed individually before people are charged.

“It’s just so much with the stigma and the decriminalization laws,” said Patricia Luko, who found out she had the virus six years after contracting.

Now she works in HIV awareness and prevention.

“Be responsible for your own health, know that it’s out there, know how to get it, how it’s spread,” she advised.

California just signed a bill that will change knowingly exposing a sex partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. It will mean lighter punishments.

We could not get a hold of Grant for comment.

He has been released on a $5,000 bond.

Published on nbc2 on Oct 18,2017

Belarus: More than 50 cases of criminal prosecution of HIV in Belarus in the first 6 months of 2017

Белорусское законодательство дискриминирует ВИЧ–позитивных людей
October 18, 2017

Belarusian legislation discriminates against HIV-positive people (Google translation – Article in russian below)

In the six months of 2017, the number of cases of criminal prosecution of HIV-positive people in Article 53 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (Infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has significantly increased in all regions of Belarus, especially in the Gomel region.

If in the period from 2012 to 2016, 38 cases were registered, then for 6 months in 2017 – more than 50 people were convicted, many of them are serving sentences in places of deprivation of liberty.

“The Belarusian community of PLWH” notes that at a time when calls for testing and self-testing for HIV are sounding throughout the country, campaigns are underway to create a tolerant attitude, people with identified HIV status are being prosecuted. The topic of HIV infection is actively discussed in the Belarusian press and abroad, thereby creating a negative, negative impression about people living with HIV, creating a new wave of enmity, stigma and discrimination in society.

Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus was approved in 1999, when HIV infection was considered an incurable disease. Since then, about 20 years have passed, mankind has stepped into a new age, medical approaches have changed, highly effective treatment has appeared, HIV is no longer a deadly disease, and has become chronic, well controlled by antiretroviral treatment. In HIV-positive people taking ARV therapy, with an undetectable viral load, the risk of HIV transmission during sexual intercourse is reduced to almost zero.

Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus consists of three parts:

  1. Knowingly placing another person at risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – is punishable by a fine, or by arrest, or by imprisonment for up to three years.
  2. Infection of another person by frivolity or with the indirect intent of HIV by a person who knew about his having this disease is punishable by imprisonment for a term of two to seven years.
  3. The action provided for in paragraph 2 of this article, committed against two or more persons, either knowingly underage, or with direct intent, is punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to thirteen years.

In the first and second parts of this article, criminal cases are instituted against people who live in legal marriages or couples where one partner is HIV-positive even if he has informed his partner about HIV-carrier, even if the fact of one from family members is taken completely consciously and voluntarily.

In accordance with the requirements of Art. 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, discordant marriages in general are under the ban and under penalty of criminal responsibility, as well as one-time voluntary sexual contacts between people of different HIV status.

In Belarus there are presumably more than 500 discordant couples. They live and work, multiplying the welfare of their country, are good taxpayers. Practically every family has children who risk being left in single-parent families, without parental care, because of the absurdity and inhumanity of law enforcement practice.

Russia also provides for criminal liability for posing a risk of contracting HIV infection under art. 122 of the Criminal Code. Thanks to the active efforts of the Russian community of PLHIV, an important note was added to the article in 2003, on the basis of which the person who put the partner at risk of infection or who infected him with HIV infection is released from criminal liability “if another person put at risk of infection, or was infected with HIV infection, was warned in a timely manner about the presence of the first of this disease and voluntarily agreed to perform actions that created the danger of infection. ” Such an addition in Article 122 of the Criminal Code released HIV-positive Russians with established HIV status from criminal prosecution.

“Belarusian community of PLWH” believes that Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus contradicts international and national legal norms. Under current legislation, an HIV-positive person can not feel a full-fledged citizen of their country. Such a practice with respect to people living with HIV is discriminatory and requires an early resolution at the legislative level of Belarus!

As of September 1, 2017, there were 18,438 HIV-positive people registered in Belarus.

Published in ECU on Oct 6, 2017

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Белорусское законодательство дискриминирует ВИЧ-позитивных людей

За шесть месяцев 2017 года во всех регионах  Беларуси,  особенно  в Гомельской области, значительно увеличилось количество случаев уголовного преследования ВИЧ-положительных людей по статье 157 Уголовного Кодекса Республики Беларусь (Заражение вирусом иммунодефицита человека).

Если в период с 2012 по 2016 годы было зарегистрировано 38 случаев, то за 6 месяцев 2017 года —  более 50-ти человек были  осуждены, многие из них отбывают срок наказания в местах лишения свободы.

«Белорусское сообщество ЛЖВ» отмечает, что в то время, когда по всей стране звучат призывы к тестированию и самотестированию на ВИЧ, проходят кампании по формированию толерантного отношения, люди с выявленным ВИЧ-статусом подвергаются уголовному преследованию. Тема о заражении ВИЧ активно муссируется в  белорусской прессе и за ее пределами, тем самым формируя отрицательное, негативное  впечатление о людях, живущих с ВИЧ, порождая новую волну вражды, стигмы и дискриминации в обществе.

Статья 157 Уголовного Кодекса Республики Беларусь  была утверждена  в 1999 году,  когда ВИЧ-инфекция считалась неизлечимым заболеванием. С тех пор прошло около 20 лет, человечество перешагнуло в новый век, поменялись медицинские подходы, появилось высокоэффективное лечение,  ВИЧ больше не является смертельно опасным заболеванием, и перешел в разряд хронических, хорошо контролируется антиретровирусным лечением. У ВИЧ-положительных людей, принимающих АРВ-терапию, при неопределяемой вирусной нагрузке риск передачи ВИЧ при половых контактах снижается практически до нуля.

Статья  157 УК РБ состоит из трех частей:

  1. Заведомое поставление другого лица в опасность заражения вирусом иммунодефицита человека (ВИЧ) – наказывается штрафом, или арестом, или лишением свободы на срок до трех лет.
  2. Заражение другого лица по легкомыслию или с косвенным умыслом ВИЧ лицом, знавшим о наличии у него этого заболевания  – наказывается лишением свободы на срок от двух до семи лет.
  3. Действие, предусмотренное частью 2 настоящей статьи, совершенное в отношении двух или более лиц, либо заведомо несовершеннолетнего, либо с прямым умыслом, – наказывается лишением свободы на срок от пяти до тринадцати лет.

По 1 и 2-ой  части данной статьи возбуждаются уголовные дела  по отношению к людям, которые живут в законных браках или парах, где один из партнеров является  ВИЧ-положительным,  даже  если  он проинформировал своего партнера о ВИЧ-носительстве, даже если факт заболевания одного из членов семьи принят совершенно осознанно и добровольно.

В соответствии с требованиями ст. 157 УК РБ дискордантные браки вообще находятся под запретом и  под страхом уголовной ответственности, равно как и разовые добровольные половые контакты между разными по ВИЧ-статусу  людьми.

В Беларуси предположительно насчитывается более 500 дискордантных пар. Они  живут и трудятся, преумножая благосостояние своей страны, являются добропорядочными налогоплательщиками. Практически в каждой семье есть дети, которые рискуют остаться в неполных семьях, без попечения родителей, по причине абсурдности и  антигуманности  правоприменительной практики.

В России также предусмотрена  уголовная ответственность за поставление в опасность заражения ВИЧ-инфекцией по ст. 122 УК РФ. Благодаря активным действиям российского сообщества ЛЖВ, в 2003 году в статью было внесено важное примечание, на основании которого человек, поставивший партнера в опасность заражения, либо заразивший его ВИЧ-инфекцией, освобождается от уголовной ответственности, «если другое лицо, поставленное в опасность заражения, либо зараженное ВИЧ-инфекцией, было своевременно предупреждено о наличии у первого этой болезни и добровольно согласилось совершить действия, создавшие опасность заражения». Такое дополнение в ст.122 УК РФ освободило ВИЧ-положительных россиян с установленным ВИЧ-статусом от уголовного преследования.

«Белорусское сообщество ЛЖВ» считает, что  статья 157 УК РБ  противоречит  международным и национальным  правовым нормам. При существующем законодательстве ВИЧ-положительный человек не может чувствовать себя полноправным гражданином своей страны. Подобная практика по отношению к людям, живущим с ВИЧ является дискриминационной, и требует скорейшего разрешения на законодательном уровне Беларуси!

По состоянию на 1 сентября 2017 года в Беларуси зарегистрировано 18 438   ВИЧ-положительных людей.

Canada: Legalities around disclosing HIV and other STIs in Canada

Have an STI? What you’re legally obligated to disclose
October 17, 2017

Have an STI? What you’re legally obligated to disclose

Jenelle Marie Pierce was 16 when she found out she had genital herpes.

“I was made to sleep on the floor at slumber parties because people thought they were going to contract my herpes from me,” the now 35-year-old from Caledonia, Mich., told Global News. “People can be cruel and really it’s just a product of a lack of information.”

Finding out you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) may seem like the end of your love life, but according to experts, it’s not true. With the right amount of education, communication in disclosing your status and safe sex practices, you can foster a healthy intimate relationship.

In Canada, STI infections are on the rise. Between 1998 and 2015 (the most recent national data available), chlamydia — the most commonly reported STI in Canada — has risen from 39,372 to 116,499 annual cases among all ages and genders, and gonorrhea rates increased from 5,076 to 19,845 in the same time period. Infectious syphilis rates rose dramatically from 501 to 4,551 cases.

But aside from the obvious health implications these infections have, their emotional burden can be almost equally dangerous. A 2014 study published in the journalAIDS Patient Care and STDs found that STI-related stigma was associated with decreased odds of testing for STIs and decreased willingness to notify a partner of an STI among young African American men.

A similar study from 2009 that was published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health also found that STI-related stigma was a barrier to adolescents’ screening behaviour.

“I’ve been called everything from a slut to a whore. People assume that you are a cheater, you are promiscuous … But it [affects] people from all walks of life, all backgrounds. It’s across the board. People from everywhere contract these infections.”

The key is to be open and ethical about your STI to prevent the spreading of any infections.

Legalities around disclosing

In Canada, it’s a crime not to disclose HIV or another STI before having sex that poses a “significant risk of serious bodily harm.” However, most prosecutions have been strictly related to HIV and hardly any have been related to herpes, syphilis, chlamydia or other STIs.

The legal obligation to disclose your status was established in the 1990s, but for people with HIV, the law became harsher in 2012. That’s when the Supreme Court of Canada decided that people living with HIV are obligated to tell their partner about their status before engaging in sex that poses a “realistic possibility of HIV transmission.”

In practice, what that means is if you’re going to engage in vaginal or anal sex and are HIV positive but don’t tell your partner ahead of time, you could face criminal prosecution if you don’t use a condom or if you use a condom but have a viral load higher than “low.”

According to advocates, this test has been applied inconsistently by the courts without proper regard to the science.

“The science is now established that there is effectively zero risk of transmission to a sexual partner if you have an undetectable viral load,” Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, told Global News.

There have been conflicting court decisions for people with HIV with an “undetectable” viral load. Some have been prosecuted and other’s haven’t.

At least 184 people have faced charges related to HIV non-disclosure after sex in Canada, one of the highest rates of HIV criminalization in the world, Elliott added. Only a few prosecutions have been related to herpes and syphilis. There haven’t been any prosecutions for non-disclosure of chlamydia, gonorrhea or HPV.

Public health

Besides the legal obligations laid out by the Canadian criminal code, some experts believe it’s important to be transparent about your STI in the name of public health.

“You want to be upfront, you want to tell the person, and you also want to reassure them that you will be performing safe and intimate contact,” Jason Tetro, a Canadian microbiologist, told Global News.

Tetro, who used to work in HIV research and policy, says STIs are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, which means they’ll be even more of a headache to treat — so, why not be open from the beginning, before any sexual contact?

“If you happen to be exposed you may be facing a very long and difficult antibiotic treatment before you’re clean, so the fact is, if we all work together to make sure we are not spreading these bugs, it’s going to improve public health overall.”

Having the awkward conversation

There are two approaches to talking to your partner, according to Pierce.

The first is being completely open about your STI status from the get-go. For those who are comfortable laying it out on the table, they can add their status to their dating profiles. The reason behind this approach, explained Pierce, is that you have a lower chance of getting your feelings hurt.

The second approach is more discreet. Just like any relationship that grows organically, some private matters like revealing your STI, are not discussed until trust is gained.

Of course, you need to disclose before there is any sexual contact.

“The idea behind that is that nobody actually puts everything out there on the table when they start dating. That’s kind of the whole dating process, it’s learning about somebody as you go,” Pierce said.

“Nobody says ‘I have horrible debt and my dad is an alcoholic and my brother is in prison’… [it’s a] myriad of things that might be a deal breaker for somebody.”

It really depends on who you are, there is no right or wrong way to do it, she added.

Once you’ve figured out the timing, you then need to figure out the method.

Avoid finding yourself in the heat of the moment. Find a private and quiet place to have the conversation, and approach it in a practical way, Pierce says. Lay out the facts in a neutral and non-emotional manner, because you don’t want to influence their response.

“It’s OK to acknowledge that it might be awkward or weird, but be as open and clear-cut as you can.”

Once you’ve disclosed your status and laid out the options for safe and protected sex, you have to let them decide if they want to take the relationship to the next level. Pierce’s biggest piece of advice? Don’t take the person’s response — positive or negative — personally.

Pierce, who has had a successful career and has had many healthy relationships, says you shouldn’t get discouraged. It’s better to be honest and straightforward, and foster a partnership with someone who will work with you to keep the STI contained to one person.

Published in Global News on October 16, 2017

Estonia: Man sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for alleged HIV transmission

Estonian court jails man who knowingly spread HIV
October 16, 2017

TALLINN – The Tallinn-based Harju County Court on Friday handed down a jail sentence of two years and eight months to a man who had unprotected sex with several women after learning that he was infected with the HI virus, and infected two women with the virus.

The court found the 34-year-old man, Anton, guilty of causing health damage which resulted in danger to life and long-term health damage and handed him a punishment of two years and eight months in jail. To that a punishment for a previous offense is added, meaning that the man must spend three years and six months in jail.

The time of commencement of the service of the sentence starts from Nov. 23, 2016, when the suspect was arrested.

The court established that Anton was aware of his infection, did not follow a treatment plan, did not take prescribed medication and did not turn up for scheduled check-ups, which means that the probability that the infection will be transmitted was particularly high.

He had unprotected sex with six different partners, whom he did not inform about having the virus.

In two of the women HI virus was found later, which according to the court is long-term health damage that is of permanent nature and poses a danger to life.

Published in the Baltic Times on Oct. 15, 2017

[Update]New Zealand: Court of Appeal reviews court decision in case of man sentenced for alleged HIV transmission and non-disclosure

Infecting lover with HIV might not be ’causing grievous bodily harm’, says lawyer
October 16, 2017

Infecting lover with HIV might not be ‘causing grievous bodily harm’, says lawyer

Basic issues remained undecided after an Auckland jury found Mikio Filitonga guilty of infecting his lover with HIV, the Court of Appeal has been told.

At a hearing in Wellington on Tuesday, Filitonga’s lawyer, Paul Borich, QC, said that, with medical advances, it was not clear that infecting someone with HIV must cause them grievous bodily harm.

It may be that such advances made it less harmful.

The jury should have been given the chance to decided whether HIV was grievous bodily harm, Borich said. Instead, the trial judge had said: “Take it from me, HIV amounts to grievous bodily harm.”

Filitonga appealed against his conviction for causing grievous bodily harm and criminal nuisance. He was sentenced to a total of two years and 10 months’ jail, and appealed against the sentence also.

In discussion with the three judges at the hearing, Borich agreed other issues not properly considered at the jury trial had been whether Filitonga had been the first to infect the victim, or had infected him at all.

The defence said the victim’s account of his sexual partners and drug-taking was not reliable.

During the period of the victim’s relationship with Filitonga, the victim had gone to the Philippines and there were questions about what he had done there.

Crown lawyer Mark Lillico accepted the trial process had not looked at all the issues it should have.

But he said HIV remained serious for the victim. It remained in his body even though medication reduced it to the point where his immune system could overcome it.

It must be that any infection of HIV was grievous bodily harm, Lillico said.

The victim had to disclose his HIV status in certain circumstances, and he would be tied to a regime of pills in the “first world”, Lillico said.

The criminal nuisance charge stood on its own and was for endangering the victim, regardless of whether Filitonga infected him with HIV, he said.

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

Published on Octo16, 2017 in Stuff

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Man sentenced after knowingly infecting partner with HIV

May 27, 2017

An Auckland man convicted of knowingly infecting his partner with HIV has received a lesser sentence because of advances in treating it.

Mikio Filitonga was found guilty by jury in March of a charge of grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and in the Auckland District Court was sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail yesterday.

He was also found guilty of committing a criminal nuisance by an unlawful act and was yesterday sentenced to 10 months to be served concurrently on that charge.

Filitonga tested positive for the virus on 27 February 2013.

On 26 July that year he was told of his legal obligations as an HIV positive man by a nurse.

In February 2014 Filitonga began a relationship with the victim which lasted several months during which they engaged in unprotected sex.

The victim did not know Filitonga was HIV positive and told the court he’d asked him on several occasions whether he was safe and was told it was.

After breaking up in October that year the victim tested positive to HIV in December.

Sentence provides a deterrent – Crown solicitor

At yesterday’s sentencing Crown solicitor Philip Arnold told the court it was important the sentence was used to deter people who would put other’s health at risk.

“There is no cure for the HIV virus, it is something [the victim] will have to live with for the rest of his life.

“This isn’t a case where Mr Filitonga merely omitted to mention the fact that he had HIV. This is a case of continuing deceit over the period of the relationship.

“In effect Mr Filitonga played Russian roulette with the victim’s health every time they had unprotected anal receptive intercourse, all the while aware that he was HIV positive and infectious.”

He said as well as the obvious physical impact, the victim was now facing limitations, had to monitor his health daily, is now under the same obligations to disclose HIV which limits sexual activities and removes life choices.

He said there was also stigma and misconceptions around the virus he was having to deal with.

Filitonga’s lawyer John Munro told the court a similar case from the ’90s being used to guide the prison sentence length should be adjusted given today’s societal and technological advances around the virus.

“The Crown have relied on a 1995 case of Mwai which was 22-years-ago when you died from HIV once it turned to AIDS and there’s no medication to assist a person.

“It is serious harm, we can’t dispute that, but we need to temper it. We need to temper it with the fact that we have medication, that you don’t die from it now. We need to temper with the way society deals with it, we need to temper it also with the fact that we have organisations now, HIV organisations who are dead against these prosecutions because they do not deter.”

Mr Munro pointed to the victim’s own promiscuity both before and after their relationship saying he was opening himself up to the risk with 20 sexual partners in the six months before.

Judge Sharp said she didn’t accept it was relevant.

Home detention sought

Mr Munro appealed to the judge to grant a sentence of two years or less, opening up the possibility of home detention.

In sentencing Judge Sharp said while HIV was no longer a death sentence it was very serious offending and he was obliged to tell the victim of his HIV status so he could choose whether to enter the relationship.

“I don’t think there’s a single person alive who would want to have HIV if they could avoid it.”

However she said the sentence imposed previously needed to take into account advances in medical science.

“It is my view that there needs to be a reduction to identify and acknowledge that the outcomes for an HIV positive person whilst still very serious are no longer life threatening…”

However, she said although she wished she could drop the sentence down to a level where home detention was possible she was unable to do that.

Filitonga to appeal

Family in the public gallery wept as she sentenced Filitonga to two years 10 months on the charge of grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and 10 months to be served concurrently for the charge committing a criminal nuisance by an unlawful act.

He was given a reduction after having sought help for his methamphetamine addiction which both he and his partner were battling with at the time.

“Unfortunately it would appear from the evidence that I heard from trial that there is a grave element of sexual promiscuity and drug taking in certain portions of the gay community in Auckland and it would appear that both parties to this very sad and unfortunate episode were guilty of those things.

“And now we have two otherwise, I’m quite certain, very good people who suffer from the HIV virus and whose lives will be seriously compromised as a result.”

John Munro said he plans on appealing both the verdict and the sentence.

Outside court his sister, Sharon Smith, said her brother was the victim of a bitter ex-boyfriend and they would be taking the matter further.

“I’m doing pretty good considering I walked in here, broke down and had a bit of a cry. My sisters are obviously a bit more emotional.

“We’re not happy because justice hasn’t been done for my brother. But like I said, we will appeal, he is innocent and we hope and pray that justice will be served.

“That’s the most unjust thing to spend one day in prison for something you didn’t do, let alone two years and 10 months.”

Published in RNZ on May 27, 2017

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HIV trial: Mikio Filitonga found guilty of infecting lover with virus

A man accused of infecting his boyfriend with HIV has been found guilty by a jury.

Mikio Filitonga, 37, was on trial at the Auckland District Court for causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and committing a criminal nuisance by doing an unlawful act.

The Crown said Filitonga, knowing himself to be positive after a test in May 2013 and “fully aware of his obligation to disclose his health status to his sexual partner”, had unprotected sex with his live-in boyfriend from February 2014.

This caused his partner, who has name suppression, to contract HIV.

The defence said the complainant was untrustworthy and could have got the virus from someone else and that before they had intercourse the defendant told him he was positive.

After almost seven hours of deliberations, the jury found Filitonga guilty of both charges.

As the foreperson announced the verdict, Filitonga appeared shocked and family members started crying.

A woman yelled: “I have something to say. I’m really disgusted with the verdict. My brother is innocent.”

Other family members and friends appeared to fuming and some cried.

Filitonga’s sister, Sharon Smith, said her brother was innocent and they were “very, very disappointed” with the verdict.

“He’s the most loving, caring and honest man. This is not his character,” she told the Herald outside court.

Smith said they would appeal the decision “whatever it costs”.

Filitonga will be sentenced in May.

Over three days of evidence, the court heard how the couple met in February 2014 at Western Springs Park.

The complainant said he asked Filitonga about his HIV status and he told him he’d had a test three months earlier and was negative.

After two months of dating and during a holiday to the Philippines with friends, the man grew ill with nausea, aches, a fever and a rash which spread over his body.

During evidence he said he figured it was probably a tropical virus but later learned these were symptoms of seroconversion, when a person first develops antibodies for HIV.

The jury was shown texts from the man to Filitonga that October in which he asked what his sickness “really is”.

“So please tell me now for real, have you got HIV or something? You have to tell me if you do. Something’s not been said, I know it. Is that why you avoid having sex?”

A later text read: “Will you promise me to get that test and never take risks with your own or anybody else’s life again?”

Prosecutor Jo Murdoch said the texts “speak volumes” that the man had no idea his lover was HIV-positive. She said it was an “implausible version of the evidence”.

“These are the texts from a man who has not been told. These are texts from a man who wanted answers.”

And they were not texts sent from someone who “vindictively fabricated” a lie after the relationship broke down, Murdoch said.

“Mr Filitonga was lying to [the complainant]. Every time they had sex, he was lying to him.”

Murdoch also questioned Filitonga conduct after learning he had the virus as he failed to take medication and therefore didn’t “take responsibility for his diagnosis”.

But in his closing, defence lawyer Ross Burns said the jury had been asked to answer “really, important question based on some woolly evidence”.

There was nothing independent of the complainant’s evidence to support the Crown’s case, he said.

“You can’t just say, ‘Well there we go, that’s evidence of their responsibility’.”

The lawyer told the jurors they had to be certain the man didn’t have unprotected sex with another HIV-positive man – besides Filitonga – in the six months before they met.

Burns referred to the man’s police interview where he told them he was at Western Springs Park – a “notorious place where gay men cruise” – to meet a man.

During the trial, the man said he was looking for his dog.

“He was going there looking for sex and if he was doing it then who can say he didn’t do it the week before or the week before that.”

Burns asked the jury: “Can you trust him?”

And while he didn’t want to make the trial a “mud-slinging match” both men had unprotected anal sex with casual partners.

“What do you get from pointing the finger at each other, the answer is nothing. It works both ways.”

Pubished in the New Zealand Herald on March 24, 2017

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A man who allegedly knowingly infected his partner with HIV promised he was “fine”, a court has been told.

Mikio Filitonga, 37, appeared at the Auckland District Court today defending a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and one of committing a criminal nuisance by doing an unlawful act.

The Crown alleges Filitonga, knowing himself to be positive after a test in May 2013 and “fully aware of his obligation to disclose his health status to his sexual partner”, had unprotected sex with his live-in boyfriend.

This caused his partner, who has name suppression, to contract HIV.

The man told the jury he first met Filitonga one morning in a park in early 2014 when he was looking for his dog. They got along and he invited Filitonga back to his home.

There he asked Filitonga what his status was.

Filitonga told him was “fine” and that he’d been tested three months earlier, the man told the court.

“I was pleased and I thought he was pretty cool and we got on really well.”

The man said knew he was negative himself because he’d been regularly tested as he was planning on having a baby.

“I had a burning desire to be a father.”

Once the coupled established they were both “safe” during that first meeting, the man performed unprotected oral sex on Filitonga and a few weeks later they had intercourse.

A relationship blossomed.

At one point during his evidence, the man was overwhelmed with emotion and had to leave the courtroom for a break.

After two months of dating and during a holiday to the Philippines with friends, the man grew ill with nausea, aches, a fever and a rash which spread over his body.

He said he figured it was probably a tropical virus and busied himself with planning his mother’s 90th birthday. He later learned these were symptoms of seroconversion, when a person first develops antibodies for HIV.

But while he was sick he stopped donating sperm to the woman he’d chosen to be his co-parent “just in case”.

“I would never forgive myself if [something happened]. Just to be safe for her sake,” he said.

The couple quickly grew close and Filitonga moved in but by August the relationship had broken down amid suspicions the defendant was unfaithful.

The man said he got in touch with one of Filitonga’s ex-boyfriends and subsequently texted the accused on October 21, 2014, asking what his sickness “really is”.

“So please tell me now for real, have you got HIV or something? You have to tell me if you do. Something’s not been said, I know it. Is that why you avoid having sex?”

He sent other similar texts but they all went unanswered although they continued to see each other.

That December, he was tested again for HIV and learned he was positive.

But defence lawyer Ross Burns said the Crown had to prove the man didn’t have sex with anyone other than the three men who will be called as witnesses between the time the complainant tested negative in August 2013 and when he tested positive in December 2014.

The other partners have all tested negative for HIV.

“If there is a reasonable possibility that the complainant had sex over that 16-month period with any other person, then you cannot find the defendant guilty,” Burns told the jury.

During cross-examination, the lawyer asked whether the man knew the park in Western Springs where he first met Filitonga was a “quite a well-known gay cruising spot”.

He asked whether the man had in fact gone looking for a partner.

“That’s not the case. I don’t like that place and I don’t do that,” he responded.

The man admitted he’d had brief relations with previous partners who have since tested negative for HIV.

The trial continues and is set down for two weeks.

The law and HIV

• If you are HIV positive, you do not have to disclose your status before having intercourse as long as you are using a condom.

• If the sex is unprotected, the HIV-positive person has a legal duty to disclose his/her status.

Published in Stuff on March 20, 2017

Mexico: Veracruz leads the way in terms of prosecutions of people with HIV

Veracruz: el estado con más procesados por delito de contagio de VIH
October 13, 2017

Veracruz: the state with the most prosecutions for the criminalisation of HIV

At least 15 people have been charged and tried on charges of transmitting HIV or a sexually transmitted infection.

Mexico City.- At the national level, Veracruz is the State with the highest number of cases of patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV being tried for being accused of the crime of transmission to other people, due to the criminalization embodied in the criminal codes of the States of the Republic.

Of the 26 cases registered in the country, in which judicial proceedings or sanctioning of persons carrying a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, have been initiated, 15 were in Veracruz.

During the International Meeting “HIV is not a crime”, it was noted that it was worrying that States, entities and their organs of justice persecute patients of these diseases.

The author of this research, Leonardo Bastida Aguilar, a member of the organization Letter S, said that in the case of Veracruz, despite being known, through a response to a request for transparency, he was only informed about 15 cases of people already charged, for the crime of transmission of venereal diseases.

Requests for answers to questions such as disaggregation by gender, judicial district, year in which it was processed or the type of sexually transmitted infection in question or gender preference or identity were not answered.

He acknowledged that this information was given briefly in 2016 when Veracruz was placed first at the national level in terms of sanctioning proceedings against people with this type of ailments.

These 15 cases, were already concluded and resulted in administrative sanctions, however, there was no further information.

It is necessary to remember that in 2015 a reform was made to the Veracruz Criminal Code, where a person who infects another person with a sexually transmitted infection, including human immunodeficiency virus, is punished with imprisonment.

In other States, a case was recorded in Nuevo León by a patient with HIV and hepatitis; in Chihuahua a person prosecuted for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis; and in Baja California a case was sanctioned with 10 years in jail, with one of the most severe penalties.

This initiative in Veracruz, has been in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), for a constitutional challenge filed by civil society and the National Human Rights Commission, for approximately two years.

In support of the groups that came out in Veracruz against this proposal that criminalizes HIV patients and other STIs, at the national level, organizations that work on behalf of patients with HIV sent a letter to the Supreme Court to argue against the legislation in Veracruz.

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Veracruz: el estado con más procesados por delito de contagio de VIH

Al menos 15 personas han sido procesadas y sometidas a juicio al ser acusados de transmitir VIH o infecciones de transmisión sexual.

Ciudad de México.- A nivel nacional, Veracruz es la entidad con más casos de pacientes con infecciones de transmisión sexual (its) y VIH sometidos a juicio al ser acusados del delito de contagio a otras personas, esto debido a la criminalización plasmada en los códigos penales de los Estados de la República.

De 26 casos registrados en el país, en los que se han iniciado procesos judiciales o sancionadores de personas portadoras de alguna infección de transmisión sexual, incluyendo VIH, 15 fueron en Veracruz.

Durante el Encuentro Internacional “VIH no es un crimen”, se advirtió que es preocupante que estados, entidades y sus órganos de justicia persigan a pacientes de estas enfermedades.

El autor de esta investigación, Leonardo Bastida Aguilar, integrante de la organización Letra S, dijo que en el caso de Veracruz, a pesar de darse a conocer, mediante una respuesta a solicitud de transparencia, sólo le informaron que se habían atendido 15 casos de personas ya procesadas, por el delito de contagio o transmisión de enfermedades venéreas.

A esta solicitud no se respondió a cuestionamientos como el desagregado por género, distrito judicial, año en que se procesó o el tipo de infección de transmisión sexual de que se trataba o la preferencia o identidad de género.

Reconoció que esta información se dio de manera escueta en el año 2016 con lo que Veracruz se colocó en el primer lugar a nivel nacional en cuanto a procesos sancionadores a personas con este tipo de padecimientos.

Estos 15 casos, incluso, ya fueron concluidos y dieron como resultado sanciones administrativas, sin embargo no hubo más información.

Es necesario recordar que en 2015 se llevó a cabo una reforma al Código Penal de Veracruz, donde se sanciona con cárcel a quien contagie a otra persona de alguna infección de transmisión sexual, incluyendo el virus de inmunodeficiencia humana.

En otras entidades se registraron un caso en Nuevo León, por un paciente de VIH y hepatitis; Chihuahua una persona procesada por VIH, hepatitis y sífilis; y en Baja California un caso sancionado con 10 años de cárcel, con una de las penas más severas.

Esta iniciativa vigente en Veracruz, se encuentra en manos de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN), por el recurso de inconstitucionalidad que se presentó por parte de la sociedad civil y la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, desde hace aproximadamente dos años.

En apoyo a los grupos que se pronunciaron en Veracruz contra esta propuesta que criminaliza a pacientes de VIH y otras ITS, a nivel nacional organizaciones que trabajan a favor de pacientes con VIH, enviaron una carta a la Suprema Corte para argumentar en contra de la legislación veracruzana.

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