A 39 year-old man from Bournemouth has been arrested and released on police bail following complaints from several women in Exmouth, East Devon that he did not disclose his HIV status to them before they had consensual unprotected sex.
The case was first reported in Saturday’s Western Morning News with the unbelievably stigmatising headline: The HIV Timebomb.
A spokesman yesterday said: “Devon and Cornwall Police can confirm a number of women have come forward regarding allegations of their having had unprotected sex with a man who they now believe to be HIV positive. They allege he failed to disclose this to them.”
Unprotected sex without disclosure is a not a crime in England & Wales and police should not be arresting individuals based on complaints of unprotected sex.
Since then, various other papers and websites have run stories about the case, including This is Exeter (complete with quotes from local councilors – why exactly?) and, of course, the Daily Mail, which managed to totally misrepresent THT’s Lisa Power, who would never have “urged possible victims to contact police” in a million years.
This looks like a witch hunt to me (and to other UK HIV advocates with whom I am in touch), and is, sadly, another example of how the police get it wrong.
The man has been released on police bail until May 11. Let’s hope that the police fishing expedition, reminiscent of the case of a London woman in 2006, not only comes to nothing, but that the police are made aware of their serious errors.