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US: Sex worker arrested in undercover operation and facing charges of HIV exposure in Georgia

Police: Sex worker didn’t disclose she was HIV status
December 5, 2019

Police in Alpharetta are issuing a warning to individuals who pay for sex. 

A sting conducted by a task force made up of three northern agencies ended in the arrest of GX, who is 24. The officers expected the decoy operation at an undisclosed hotel to culminate in that fashion. But once they started interviewing the young lady, police say she told them she had been HIV positive for more than a year. She also stated she sought no medical treatment.

“This is serious,” said Alpharetta Police Sergeant Howard Miller. “Our concern in putting this information out there is public health. 

Miller said any of Pitts’ customers can come forward and not worry about being charged as a “John”. 

US: Man arrested and charged in Oklahoma for alleged HIV non-disclosure and transmission

Man arrested, accused of knowingly spreading HIV to two people
December 5, 2019

Source: Fox 23 News, December 4, 2019

TULSA, Okla. – A man was arrested this week on two different felony charges after investigators say he knowingly transmitted HIV to at least two victims.

Court papers state XX had consensual sex with the victims and didn’t tell them he has HIV.

In one case, the victim reportedly said he explicitly told him he was not infected with the virus. The victim didn’t know he had it until he started feeling ill shortly after their sexual encounter and was tested by the Tulsa County Health Department.

In the second case, the victim reportedly didn’t know he had it until he was approached by others who told him he may want to get checked.

Court papers state X was diagnosed with HIV in 2014, and received counseling regarding his test results, so he was aware he had it.

X was charged in July and was arrested on Tuesday.

There are several free and low-cost resources in Tulsa to help prevent and treat HIV. Experts said the best way to help stop spread of the disease is through regular testing.

Experts said there are options and treatments for people diagnosed with HIV to help manage their symptoms. People need to be responsible and get the proper medical attention.

HOPE provides STD testing, counseling and referrals for people in regard to sexual health. Tulsa CARES helps patients with emergency care, transportation, health services and more. The county and city health departments are also resources for testing and medical attention.

Kenya: Advocates argue that HIV criminalisation law is impeding progress in Kenya’s response to the epidemic

Group criticises sexual offences law in war against HIV
December 2, 2019

Group criticises sexual offences law in war against HIV

In Summary

  • Despite the opposition from the State, persons living with HIV and Aids want the courts to declare section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act unlawful.
  • But the state argues that the challenged provisions are clear, precise, unambiguous, and do not disclose any infringement of their constitutional rights

The government could be shooting itself in the foot in the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of HIV and Aids by allowing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to arrest and commence criminal trial against those suspected of spreading the virus.

The state has been calling on the public to come out openly and seek testing and treatment.

However, recent events where the DPP wants a 42-year-old woman in Nakuru jailed for breastfeeding and infecting her neighbour’s nine-month-old baby with HIV last year, could undo the gains already made in containing the spread of the virus.

It is feared that such prosecution may discourage others from going public about their status and seeking treatment among other state interventions aimed at curbing the virus.

The law under which the woman was charged, Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, is also the subject of litigation at the High Court by HIV positive persons (PLWHA) who want it repealed.

The woman’s lawyer, Ms Jenifer Mugweru, is appealing the orders issued by a magistrate on October 18, requiring her to provide her blood samples to be tested for HIV.

INFORMED CONSENT

The woman who is out on a Sh50,000 bond is said to have committed the offence on September 18, 2018 at Gichobo area in Njoro Sub-County.

The HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act (Hapca), which has been in force since 2009, provides at Section 14 that, “No person shall undertake an HIV test in respect of another person except: (a) with the informed consent of that other person.”

Informed consent refers to consent given with the full knowledge of the risks involved, probable consequences and the range of alternatives available.

“Informed consent for HIV testing means that the person being tested for HIV agrees to undergo the test on the basis of understanding the testing procedures, the reasons for the testing, and is able to assess the personal implications of having or not having the test performed,” the HIV and Aids Tribunal ruled in one of its decisions.

In their application challenging Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, and its subsections, people living with HIV and Aids argue that it could undermine government efforts to eradicate or contain HIV and Aids spread.

They have interpreted section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act to imply that a person living with the disease is a potential criminal, who needs to be prosecuted and jailed, should it be established that he or she is “spreading” HIV/Aids.

POTENTIAL CRIMINAL

Section 26(1) of the Sexual Offences Act provides that “any person who, having actual knowledge that he or she is infected with HIV or any other ‘life threatening’ sexually transmitted disease, intentionally, knowingly and wilfully does anything or permits the doing of anything which he or she knows ….

“ … (a) Will infect another with HIV or any other ‘life threatening’ sexually transmitted disease … Shall be guilty of an offence, whether or not he or she is married to that other person, and shall be liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than fifteen years but which may be for life.”

The effect of this section and its subsidiary sections is that it perpetuates discrimination, stigma and fear against persons with HIV/Aids.

Living with the disease makes a person a criminal waiting to be arrested, prosecuted and visited with a lengthy jail term.

“It therefore discourages people from testing for HIV, seeking treatment and disclosing their status,” the litigants said in court papers.

According to people living with HIV and Aids, knowledge of one’s HIV status is important because it allows one to seek treatment and greatly reduces if not eliminates the risk of further transmission.

It also makes it possible to employ a range of other transmission prevention strategies and can improve expansion of HIV diagnosis and treatment, therefore a necessary condition for a successful HIV response.

“Section 26 of the Act thereby threatens progress gained and severely constrains further progress in Kenya’s response to the HIV epidemic,” the PLWHA argue.

PRIVACY

The section, according to the group, also intrudes on the privacy of marriage between consenting parties, it creates stigma and discrimination against couples in which one partner has HIV and the other does not (discordant couples).

It criminalises consensual physical intimacy between partners, threatens to separate families by removing a parent or partner from the family to be incarcerated (it criminalises procreation between discordant couples).

The group says the section creates stigma and discrimination against breastfeeding whereas this is the means by which most people in Kenya nourish their infants, and the only practical means by which to do so for many as well as the medically suggested means including people with HIV.

“And in that it threatens to separate children from their parents by removing the parent from the child to be incarcerated for lengthy periods on the basis of their HIV status, whereas it is in the presumptive interest of the child to be raised by both parents,” said PLWHA in court papers.

The group also takes issue with the meaning of the term “life-threatening sexually transmitted disease” or what constitutes it, saying it has not been explained in the Act, and the law is therefore vague in that respect.

VICTIM’S INTENTION

The state in defending the law disagrees with the arguments being advanced by the group, saying the challenged provisions are clear, precise, unambiguous, and do not disclose any infringement of their constitutional rights.

The group wants the court to declare Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act unlawful. The case is still pending in the high court.

Further, that it is important to appreciate why section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act was enacted.

“While examining whether a particular law is unconstitutional, the court must have regard not only to its purpose but also its effect. The purpose of section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act was to address the intentional spread of HIV and Aids,” state counsel Anne Wanjiku Mwangi in court papers.

Despite the opposition from the State, persons living with HIV and Aids want the courts to declare section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act unlawful.

Tajikistan: Criminal proceedings could be instigated against 2 women in the future if sexual partners develop HIV

Two women may have infected dozens of men in Khatlon with HIV, says Khatlon governor
November 30, 2019

Source: Asia Plus, November 30, 2019

Two women may have infected dozens of men in Khatlon with HIV, says Khatlon governor

Khatlon governor Qurbon Hakimzoda remarked this at the congress of women leaders in Bokhtar on November 28.

“Two women may have infected dozens of men with HIV in the cities of Bokhtar and Nurek within a short period of time,” the governor said.  

Hakimzoda noted that that case had been discussed at his meeting with administrators of the city of Nurek and he had ordered them to take measures to prevent such cases in the future.   

The head of the Khatlon AIDS Center, Ilyosiddin Saidov, told Asia-Plus that they had tested more than 20 men who had had sexual intercourse with those women.  “The tests were negative.  However, we will test them once again in six months, because they may be infected but tests did not detect that,” Saidov said.  

If those men were really infected, criminal proceedings will be instituted against those women, Saidov added.   

Meanwhile, an antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after an exposure.  Antigen/ antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick can take longer to detect HIV (18 to 90 days after an exposure).

According to Saidov, 338 new HIV-infection cases hav been officially registered in the province over the first ten months of this year, bringing a total number of people living with HIV in the area to 3,654.   

Criminal transmission of HIV is the intentional or reckless infection of a person with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  This is often conflated, in laws and in discussion, with criminal exposure to HIV, which does not require the transmission of the virus and often, as in the cases of spitting and biting, does not include a realistic means of transmission.  Some countries or jurisdictions, including some areas of the U.S., have enacted laws expressly to criminalize HIV transmission or exposure, charging those accused with criminal transmission of HIV.  Others, including the United Kingdom, charge the accused under existing laws with such crimes as murder, fraud (Canada), manslaughter, attempted murder, or assault.

The response to HIV is hampered by repressive legislation and policies

Power to the people: repressive laws hamper grassroots response to HIV, report warns
November 27, 2019

Power to the people: repressive laws hamper grassroots response to HIV, report warns

Government clampdowns on marginalised groups are hampering the response to the HIV/Aids epidemic, a new report has warned.

The United Nations HIV agency, UNAIDS, has highlighted the vital role played by community groups in fighting Aids but warns that repressive laws, such as bans on gay sex and drug prohibition, are threatening their existence and efforts to control the disease. 

In an interview with the Telegraph to launch the report Winnie Byanyima, the new executive director of UNAIDS, said that since the beginning of the Aids epidemic community groups have played a crucial role in the fight against the disease. 

“Community organisations have been delivering services on the ground, counselling people, taking them for testing and supporting them through treatment. But more importantly they have been challenging governments and speaking up and demanding the right to health,” she said. 

The report, published in advance of World Aids Day on December 1, warns that HIV is becoming concentrated in girls and young women and what are known as “key populations” – gay men, sex workers, drug users, transgender people and prisoners. 

In 2018, more than half of all new infections were among these groups but these are also the very people who face the most stigma and discrimination, the report says. 

The report highlights how in all 21 countries in eastern and Southern Africa – which has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world – sex between same sex partners is criminalised and is punishable by the death penalty in more than half. 

And it is a criminal offence to to fail to disclose HIV diagnosis to employers or others in around half of east and south African countries. 

Other repressive policies include mandatory HIV testing for marriage, work or residence permits for certain groups. 

The report warns: “Where people fear discovery and arrest – and where violence, discrimination, aggressive law enforcement and harassment are enabled by national and local legislation – the people most in need of services cannot access them.” 

The report warns that civil society organisations in many countries face legal constraints, funding restrictions and regulatory hurdles and operate in hostile, authoritarian environments.

A study published in the Lancet last month showed that anti-gay laws were linked to low knowledge of HIV status among gay men.

The report highlights the success of gay rights groups in Botswana where, after four years of legal challenges, one group, the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, won legal recognition. Earlier this year it helped to get the country’s high court to decriminalise same sex relations.

 

Ms Byanyima said that while a country such as Uganda was seeing the number of new infections decrease – from 92,000 in 2010 to 53,000 in 2018 – it would not end Aids if same sex relations continue to be punishable by life imprisonment and gay people live in fear. 

“In a country like Uganda most of the infections are transmitted through heterosexual sex and you see that women and girls are among the most infected. If you focus on women and girls you will drive down infections pretty fast but Uganda will not end the epidemic unless it also delivers on the human rights of gay people,” she said.

She added that in Russia, HIV rates were increasing among drug users.

“It’s important to address the epidemic you have in your own country,” she said. 

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US: Growing number of Ohio public health experts and advocates call for reform of HIV criminalisation law

Experts: Ohio law on HIV status disclosure hurts public health
November 26, 2019

Experts: Ohio law on HIV status disclosure hurts public health

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A growing number of Ohio public health experts and advocates are now working to stop what they call the criminalization of HIV.

Daphne Kackloudis, Chief Public Policy Officer at Equitas Health, told News 5 Ohio’s current law charging someone who fails to disclose their HIV status with a felony in all cases is hurting public health.

Kackloudis said the threat of up to eight years in prison is causing too many people to avoid getting tested, because according the current law if someone doesn’t get tested, and isn’t aware of their status they can’t be prosecuted.

“It is a disincentive for someone to get tested, and that’s not good for an individuals health and the public health,” Kackloudis said.

“We want them to get on antiretroviral therapy to get as healthy as possible, and be virally suppressed so they can not transmit HIV.”

Kackloudis believes the potential penalty should be moved back to a misdemeanor in cases where those charged are on HIV medication and are a far less infection risk.

She said the current law allows someone to file charges against an HIV-positive partner, even if they didn’t get the virus from that partner.

Kackloudis is a member of the Ohio Health Modernization Movement , which is also making an effort to change Ohio law.

She also made it clear she fully understands why the law was created, and said the proposed change in the law would still allow for full prosecution of those who willingly give others HIV.

Graig Cote of Columbus, who has been HIV positive for 33 years, told News 5 changes in the law are needed because it’s too difficult to prove if someone made proper disclosure of their status or not, unless there was a witness or if it was in writing or recorded.

“If we don’t change the laws, people don’t get tested, if they don’t get tested they don’t know if they’re HIV positive,” Cote said.

“We’re not asking for a free ride, we’re just asking that the laws catch up with the science.”

Cote said he hopes the proposed change in Ohio law is ready to present at the statehouse in the first quarter of 2020, and again made it clear the effort would not keep those who willingly spread HIV from facing full prosecution.

“People who want to infect somebody need to be stopped, there’s no dispute about that,” Cote said.

US: 40-year-old Tennessee man charged with alleged HIV exposure

Nashville man indicted on HIV exposure charge
November 26, 2019

Source: Scoop Nashville, November 25, 2019

Nashville man indicted on HIV exposure charge 

40-year-old D.X. has been indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury on criminal exposure of HIV to another person. His bond was set at $25,000.

A Davidson County Grand Jury has indicted D.X. with criminal exposure of HIV to another person. The indictment, which was unsealed on November 15th, details the exposure that occurred between November of 2014 and August of 2016. It alleges X knew he was infected with HIV and knowingly engaged in intimate contact with another person without disclosing the information to his partner.

X is scheduled to be arraigned on December 11th, in front of Judge Steve Dozier.

US: 42-year-old man charged in Wisconsin for alleged HIV exposure and transmission

HIV–positive man charged after sex with 6 women
November 24, 2019

Source: Stock Daily Dish – November 23, 2019

HIV-positive man charged after sex with 6 women

(MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL) — An HIV-positive Waterford man was charged with six felonies after six women told police the man repeatedly had unprotected sex with them after saying he was “clean.” At least one of the women has now tested positive.

J, 42, faces six counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, all as a habitual, repeat offender. He had been convicted of similar charges in other counties more than a decade ago.

According to the criminal complaint, J. was investigated on similar charges in Jefferson County in 2006 and admitted he was HIV-positive. He was convicted and sentenced to prison and released in 2015 on extended supervision.

India: Woman lodges police complaint against medical staff of blood bank after contracting HIV during transfusion

Pregnant woman contracts HIV after blood transfusion in Tamil Nadu
November 23, 2019

Source: Stock Daily Dish, November 23, 2019

A 24-year-old pregnant woman contracted HIV allegedly after being transfused contaminated blood supplied by a blood bank which failed to conduct proper screening for the virus, prompting the Tamil Nadu government to order examination of stocks in the state‘s blood banks.

The services of three lab technicians of the blood bank attached to a government hospital at Sattur, near Virudhunagar, have been terminated,Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said Wednesday.

Terming the incident as ‘disheartening and shocking’, he said such a thing has never happened in the state so far.

The minister said a thorough probe into the incident was on and promised stringent action against those found guilty.

The woman and her husband lodged a police complaint on Wednesday seeking action against the doctors, nurses and employees of the blood bank.

Police said a first information report has been registered against doctors and nurses involved in the transfusion of blood besides blood bank workers for medical negligence under relevant Indian Penal Code sections but did not elaborate.

The state government said it was making all efforts to prevent the impact of the virus on the woman, and stocks in all blood banks would be reviewed to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

Joint Director of Health Services, Virudhunagar, R Manoharan told PTI the woman, who was eight months pregnant with her second child, had gone for a check-up at a private clinic in Sattur where doctors advised her to have a blood transfusion citing haemoglobin deficiency.

Subsequently, she underwent blood transfusion at the Sattur government hospital and the blood was brought from the blood bank.

It later emerged that the donor was HIV positive, the official said, adding the recipient‘s blood was also tested, which confirmed that she too had got infected by the virus.

Police said the 19-year-old donor, on coming to know about the incident, allegedly attempted to commit suicide by consuming poison. He has been admitted to a hospital.

They said he was employed at a local fireworks unit in Sivakasi. He had donated blood for a girl, his relative, who was seriously ill.

However, the blood-group did not match and it was kept in the blood bank. Subsequently, when he had gone for a health check at Madurai for an overseas job,he tested HIV positive, officials said.

He apprehended that he might be questioned by police for no fault of his and attempted suicide, they said.

Preliminary inquiry revealed that the blood bank staff had failed to screen the blood properly before supplying it to the private hospital.

The personnel who tested the donor‘s blood had labelled it ‘safe,‘ officials said.

A detailed medical treatment is also underway for the woman to ensure the virus does not affect her foetus, the minister said, adding, the government is also giving all livelihood assistance to the family.

Lakhs of people were provided with blood component annually including in the form of blood and ‘there have been no complaints (of such nature) so far and this is the first time which is shocking’, he told reporters in Chennai.

Talking to reporters, the woman‘s husband held the state government responsible for the incident and demanded that it provide the best treatment to her.

He said he does not want any job from the government but only the best treatment for his wife.

Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the district and spoke to the woman. If the woman wanted to get treated in a private hospital, she would be provided all help, he said.

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the district collector had expressed ‘regret‘ to the family through the revenue divisional officer.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin lashed out at the ruling
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam over the incident, saying it showed how state-run hospitals function under this ‘corrupt government’.

[Update]France: Court of appeal increases sentence of 63-year-old man to 4 years for alleged HIV transmission

Perpignan: sentence increased to 4 years for having transmitted HIV to his partner
November 23, 2019
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