Germany: Pop star arrested for criminal HIV exposure and transmission

Nadja Benaissa, 26, one of the members of Germany’s biggest girl group, No Angels, was arrested in Frankfurt last Saturday, following complaints from three men that she had unprotected sex with them without disclosing that she was HIV-positive. One of the men has tested HIV-positive.

According to the first English-language report, in Germany’s Spiegel Online (which is very similar to the German version):

The public prosecutor’s office in the western town of Darmstadt said the singer was being held because of the “urgent suspicion that the accused had unprotected sexual intercourse with three people in the years 2004 and 2006 without telling them beforehand that she was HIV positive.”

At least one of the partners has since been tested positive for HIV, allegedly as a result of having intercourse with her, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The singer faces a possible charge of grievous bodily harm which carries a sentence of between six months and 10 years, the office said. She has been remanded in custody.

The story has hit all of the German media today with a bang, making front-page news. By any measure, this is an exceptional story.

Ms Benaissa is thought to be the first woman to be accused of criminal HIV exposure/transmission in Germany (there have been around 15 cases so far, all thought to have involved men), and is only the second celebrity in the world to face such charges (the first being US-born Canadian football player, Trevis Smith).

It appears that Ms Benaissa’s HIV status was not in the public domain until today. However, hidden deep in Google’s cache is a December 2006 posting on a music blog alleging not only that she was HIV-positive but that she was responsible for infecting a friend of the poster, and warning others about her.