Qatar: Woman and three men on trial for criminal HIV transmission

A woman in Doha, the capital of Qatar, is on trial for either criminal HIV exposure or transmission, since it is unclear whether the three male complainants are also HIV-positive. Bizarelly, according to the only report I can find on the case, from The Peninsula, the three men are also on trial, although it is unclear exactly what they are accused of.

A criminal court here is hearing a case involving an HIV-infected woman who is accused of transmitting the killer virus to three men. Incidentally, the three victims are also accused in the case…

A witness, who works with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) as a senior consultant, confirmed in deposition to the court that the first accused—the woman—was treated at the hospital since she had HIV… According to him, the woman was asked to give an undertaking that since she was afflicted with the dreaded virus, she would not have intimate physical relations with anyone since doing that would mean transmitting the killer disease to others.

Another key witness in the case was from a law-enforcement agency who had interrogated the three male accused in the case who were victims of HIV. He said the trio had confessed to having had physical contact with the woman and feared that they might have come in contact with the disease. The case, according to Al Sharq, has been transferred to the court by the Public Prosecution recently.

Canada: Article exposes Canada’s Kafkaesque HIV laws

Criminal HIV exposure prosecutions are reaching Kafkaesque levels in Canada, as this report from Canada’s national gay newspaper, Xtra.ca, makes clear.

In the wake of the trial of Johnson Aziga – which continues after an Xmas and New Year break on Monday 12th January – Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is now concerned that Canada may begin to prosecute the 80+ individuals previously convicted of HIV exposure for murder following the deaths of their sexual partners years down the line.

The law in Canada is such an ass – and open to potential cases of blackmail and revenge – that another expert, Ryan Peck, the executive director of the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario) (HALCO), recommends that the HIV-positive partner asks their HIV-negative partner to sign a disclosure form before any sex.

 

The law cracks down on HIV

Murder charges are now on the table in Canada

Krishna Rau / Toronto / Friday, January 02, 2009

The growing criminalization of HIV could mean increasingly harsh treatment for those convicted of spreading the virus. Tim McCaskell, the cofounder of AIDS Action Now, says the current first-degree murder trial of Johnson Aziga — a Hamilton man charged in the deaths of two women after infecting them following consensual sex — could be an alarming precedent.

“When you develop a social zeitgeist that the solution to crime is jails and penalties and punishment then that’s how you treat an epidemic as well,” says McCaskell. “It seems to me that the fact that he’s been charged with murder is more about sensationalism and upping the ante than it is about even getting a conviction. “But if you do get a conviction on that we’re really in trouble.”

The case against Aziga is the first in Canada involving a murder charge, says Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. He says there have been a few previous attempted murder charges, but the circumstances were vastly different. “There was clearly assaultive behaviour, biting, spitting,” Elliott says. “It’s not been a case of consensual sex. It’s been cases where they say, ‘I hope you die,’ as they throw blood or something. This [consensual sex] is completely different unless you have a lunatic who’s deliberately trying to kill people by infecting them by having sex.”

Elliott says a conviction in the Aziga case could lead to murder charges years after someone was infected through consensual sex. “It’s possible, if the person to date has not been charged with murder, but has been convicted of aggravated sexual assault which has been the predominant charge, and then 10 years later the infected person dies.”

Elliott says he’s more worried about the possibility of charges being laid against people who infect a sexual partner without even knowing their status. He refers to a 2003 case from Newfoundland in which a couple had unprotected sex before the man tested positive. He did not disclose his status and they continued to have unprotected sex. The man was only convicted of attempted aggravated sexual assault because it couldn’t be proved that the woman was infected after his test. The case ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The Supreme Court said, ‘You might be reckless if you have reason to believe you might be infected and don’t disclose the fact,’” says Elliott. “It certainly opens the door to a case where prosecutors could argue someone was reckless if there are circumstances in which a person should have known — if they were called by a past contact or by Public Health.”

Elliott says a man in Switzerland was convicted of grievous bodily harm after he was told by a previous partner that she was HIV-positive. The man did not get tested and then infected another woman.

“You have to get into drawing lines,” says Elliott. “When should you have known? It starts to get absurd if you go down the line.”

But even if someone did disclose their positive status, they might not be believed if their infected partner denies disclosure took place.

“There is a concern that these he said/he said cases will result in convictions due to the pervasive stigma and discrimination facing people living with HIV/AIDS,” writes Ryan Peck, the executive director of the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario) (HALCO), in an email.

Elliott cites a case in Montreal involving an HIV-positive woman who allegedly did not disclose her status as an example of the legal discrimination faced by HIV-positive people.

“That case seems to have involved a physically abusive relationship in which he was charged with assaulting her,” he says. “The advocates claim that was used to lessen the sentence given to him.”

Peck states that the situation is so treacherous that HALCO is providing possible strategies for disclosure. He suggests HIV-positive people consider disclosing their status in front of friendly witnesses or a counsellor or support worker who’s taking notes. He also suggests double-checking.

“Have a friend ask the sex partner if they know about your status,” he writes. “If disclosure takes place online, make sure it is done clearly, i.e. not using code words. The sex partner should acknowledge the disclosure, and a copy should be saved and printed.”

Peck suggests that having a sex partner sign an acknowledgment would be legally ideal but unlikely.

“Get your sex partner to sign a document before sex that says that he knows you are HIV-positive and that he knows what it means,” Peck writes. “The document should include the date and the partner’s name and signature. This is a good way for you to protect yourself. But it is also the most unrealistic strategy.”

Kenya: Unease over new HIV transmission law

IRIN/PlusNews has published an interesting article analysing the potential impact of Kenya’s new criminal HIV transmission law, which was passed in 2006 but has yet to be impemented.

KENYA: Unease over new HIV transmission law

NAIROBI, 12 December 2008 (PlusNews) – In June 2006, a young woman in western Kenya died of HIV-related complications and left a list of about 100 people that she said she had infected with HIV. A new law, approved by the Kenyan president but yet to be implemented, is hoping to prevent wilful transmission.

The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2006 has drawn mixed and very sharp reactions. Inviolata Mbwavi, an AIDS activist who went public about her status in 1994, warned that the legislation in its current form appeared to label HIV-infected people as dangerous human beings with whom people should not associate.

“When you criminalise HIV then we are going back to square [one] of trying to stigmatise the virus even more, yet we have not effectively dealt with the stigma associated with HIV. Why do we want to further burden those who are already burdened by coming up with HIV-specific legislation?”

The Kenyan government is divided on the matter. The National AIDS Control Council, a government body set up to coordinate HIV control activities, is strongly opposed to the section that puts the responsibility for not transmitting the virus on those already living with it.

“Why would one bother to go for a test when they already know it could be used against them in a court of law?” said Tom K’Opere, an advocate of the High Court, at a conference organised by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to discuss the merits and demerits of the legislation.

“It is ridiculous, because we all know that knowing one’s status is one of the most effective ways of containing the scourge, yet we are now trying to discourage this by introducing such a law.”

According to the National AIDS Control Council, most Kenyans do not know their status.

Supporters of the law, like Otiende Amollo, a lawyer and member of the task force that collected views from the public before the legislation was drafted, maintain it would go along way in protecting vulnerable groups like women and children, who are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault.

Anne Gathumbi, an officer of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa, which supports and promotes public participation in democratic governance and the rule of law, said: “We know that the majority of those who know their status are women. What we are doing by passing such a law is therefore to condemn people we are claiming to protect to jail.”

The new legislation has also brought into question the responsibility of HIV-negative people. “What we are proposing in the law only touches those already [HIV]-positive. We should also look at the responsibility of those who do not have the virus,” said Anne Marie, a civil society activist.

“Are we not forgetting that we should vouch for shared responsibility? Let us not create a law because we are desperate to show the world that we are doing something.”

Another clause causing concern is the one that gives medical practitioners the authority to disclose the status of patients to their next of kin, violating their right to confidentiality. It remains to be seen whether Kenya will go ahead and implement these contentious clauses.

Kennedy Anyona*, who has lived with the virus for the past four years, says the responsibility of revealing one’s status to anybody is a right that should not be delegated to any other party.

“I have a right to confidentiality and that cannot be trampled upon. The responsibility of revealing my status, which is the best thing to do however, rests with me,” he said.

“Taking that away means I am being denied my human right to privacy and confidentiality, which are even enshrined in international laws to which Kenya is a signatory.”

Uganda: Bill to force spouses to reveal HIV status

Uganda’s proposed HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill is analysed in this report from the Daily Monitor.

President Museveni has previously said that he supports the death penalty for criminal HIV transmission.

 

Bill to force spouses to reveal HIV status

by Sheila Naturinda

Monitor Online

Dec 12, 2008 – 2:54:15 AM

Kampala

Ugandans who test positive for HIV, the virus that causes Aids, will have their results shared with their spouses and sexual partners with or without their consent, under a new law proposed by the government.

The draft HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Bill 2008 unveiled before a committee of Parliament this week, seeks to criminalise the willful and intentional transmission of HIV to an uninfected person. It also seeks to guarantee access to treatment for those already infected and to protect people living with HIV against discrimination.

The Bill still, undergoing consultations, seeks to get a formal legislation to back up and supplement the fight against the epidemic in the country. HIV/Aids activists have, however, attacked provisions of the draft that seek to peel away the veil of confidentiality that voluntary testing for HIV currently provides.

For instance, the Bill recommends that medical personnel who carry out an HIV test “may notify the sexual partner(s) of the person tested where he or she reasonably believes that the HIV positive person poses a risk of HIV transmission to the partner and the person has been given reasonable opportunity to inform their partner(s) of their HIV positive status and has failed to do so”.

Ms Stella Kentutsi of the National Forum of People Living with HIV/Aids Networks in Uganda told Daily Monitor that the provisions compelling disclosure are insensitive to the people living with HIV. “This criminalisation will automatically affect disclosure which has been encouraged and it will therefore increase the level of silent transmission among the population,” she said.

Mr Robert Ochai, the executive director of The Aids Support Organisation, said the Bill has many contentious clauses including that of disclosure which ought to be deleted or amended.

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the vice chairperson of the parliamentary committee on HIV/Aids, defended the draft Bill and its provisions and said similar laws criminalising willful transmission of HIV had been passed in South Africa, Kenya, the Philippines and China. He added, however, that the Bill could be amended to address concerns raised by various groups.

The Bill urges individuals, who are aware of their HIV-positive status to inform their sexual partners and observe instructions on prevention and treatment. Although the Bill provides for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV, it prescribes compulsory HIV tests for people convicted of drug abuse or possession of medical instruments associated with drug abuse, people charged with sexual offences such as rape and defilement, as well as sex workers convicted on prostitution charges.

The Bill also prescribes “routine” HIV testing for victims of sexual offences and pregnant women as well as their partners. It also provides for individuals to be subjected to HIV tests under a court order, with or without their consent.

First effort

The Bill is the first formal effort by the government to criminalise behaviour that could lead to HIV and Aids. It comes at a time of growing anxiety among public health specialists over the stagnation of the country’s HIV prevalence rate at around 6.5 per cent and evidence of rising year-on-year infections.

The move towards forceful disclosure appears informed by research findings which show more infections occurring among married couples, as well as a high incidence of discordance where one partner is not infected.

Supporters of the Bill argue that compelled disclosure will help uninfected partners take steps to prevent infection.

Despite the controversial clauses on disclosure, the Bill contains several provisions designed to protect the rights of people living with HIV and Aids.

Apart from providing for pre and post-test counselling, the Bill says every pregnant woman who tests positive for HIV is entitled to safe and appropriate anti-retroviral treatment, which helps postpone the onset of Aids, and medication to prevent the transmission of the virus to her baby. It also provides for HIV testing for babies born to HIV-positive mothers and guarantees treatment, care and support for those found to be infected.

In other provisions, the Bill forbids employers from subjecting employees to compulsory HIV tests. It also notes that “no person shall be compelled to undergo an HIV test or disclose his status for the purposes of gaining access to any credit or loan services, medical, accident or life insurance or extension of continuation of such services”.

The Bill states, “A person shall not be denied access to any employment which he/she is qualified or transferred and denied promotion on such grounds like he has the virus or he is perceived to carry the virus.” It prescribes a five-year jail term to employers who violate this provision.

The Bill also seeks to eliminate discrimination among school children that have been affected in their schools because some have been denied education on grounds that they are HIV positive. “An education institution shall not deny admission or expel, discipline segregate and deny participation in any event that a person is perceived to be of HIV positive status,” it states. The Bill also seeks to have all persons whether infected or not have a right to vie for public offices.

In work places, the Bill seeks to force all employers to make sure all mechanisms are in place to reduce contraction of the disease by their employees.

In places like hospitals, according to Dr Baryomunsi, all employers will be mandated to ensure that necessities like adequate gloves and immediate medications are available in cases where someone accidentally pricks himself. “This helps in cases where such a person is likely to unknowingly transmit the virus to a patient,” he said.

The Bill states: “Every institution comprising of 20 or more persons will provide HIV/Aids related treatment and the compensation to persons working in such an institution who will be occupationally exposed to the virus,” the Bill reads in part.

Highlights of the Bill

  • Willful and intentional transmission of HIV is criminal.
  • A doctor can notify a partner of an HIV-positive preson their status if the doctor believes the infected person poses a risk of transmission
  • Individuals aware of their HIV-positive status should inform sexual partners and observe instructions on preven tion and treatment.
  • Compulsory HIV tests for people convicted of drug abuse or possession of medical instruments associated with drug abuse, people charged with sexual offences such as rape, defilement, as well as sex workers convicted of prostitution.
  • Routine HIV testing for victims of sexual offences and pregnant women as well as their partners.
  • Every preganant woman who tests HIV-positive is entitled to safe and appropriate anti-retroviral treatment.
  • HIV testing for babies born to HIV-positive mothers and treatment, care for those found infected.
  • Loan/credit/insurance providers should not subject clients to HIV test as a precondition for offering the credit or service.

Africa: PlusNews publishes in-depth analysis of criminalisation throughout the continent

PlusNews, the global online HIV and AIDS news service of the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), has published an excellent in-depth analysis of criminalisation in Africa.

A collection of short articles focusing on various aspects of criminalisation in different parts of the continent can be downloaded as a pdf here, or read online here.

They include:

I reproduce here an article providing an overview of the situation alongside a criminalisation map of Africa which they say will be updated once they receive more accurate information from readers in Africa.

 

AFRICA: Will criminalising HIV transmission work?

IRIN/PlusNews

Monday 08 December 2008

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are looking at a new way of preventing HIV infections: criminal charges. But experts argue that applying criminal law to HIV transmission will achieve neither criminal justice nor curb the spread of the virus; rather, it will increase discrimination against people living with HIV, and undermine public health and human rights.

UNAIDS has urged governments to limit criminalisation to cases “where a person knows his or her HIV-positive status, acts with the intention to transmit HIV, and does in fact transmit HIV”. The reality is that intentional and malevolent acts of HIV transmission are rare, so in most instances criminal prosecutions are not appropriately applied.

In Switzerland, a man was sent to jail earlier in 2008 for infecting his girlfriend with HIV, even though he was unaware of his HIV status, and a Texas court recently sentenced a man living with HIV to 35 years in prison for spitting on a police officer, although the chances of the officer being exposed to the virus were negligible.

Laws making HIV transmission an offence are not new to the developed world, but the trend has been growing in African countries, where higher prevalence levels make such laws all the more attractive to policymakers.

“Africa has burst into this whole frenetic spasm of criminalising HIV,” said South African Justice Edwin Cameron, who is also HIV positive, at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico earlier this year.

In Uganda, proposed HIV legislation is not limited to intentional transmission, but also forces HIV-positive people to reveal their status to their sexual partners, and allows medical personnel to reveal someone’s status to their partner.

Most legislative development has taken place in West Africa, where 12 countries recently passed HIV laws. In 2004 participants from 18 countries met at a regional workshop in N’djamena, Chad, to adopt a model law on HIV/AIDS for West and Central Africa.

The law they came up with was far from “model”, according to Richard Pearshouse, director of research and policy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who maintains that the model law’s broad definition of “wilful transmission” could be used to prosecute HIV-positive women for transmitting the virus to their babies during pregnancy.

People living with HIV have expressed concerns that the growing trend to criminalise HIV infection places legal responsibility for HIV prevention solely on those already living with the virus, and dilutes the message of shared responsibility.

UNAIDS has warned that using criminal law in cases other than intentional transmission could create distrust in relationships with healthcare workers, as people may fear the information will be used against them in a criminal case. Such laws could also “discourage HIV testing, since ignorance of one’s status might be perceived as the best defence in a criminal law suit.”

Some policymakers have called for HIV legislation as a means to protect women from HIV infection, but the irony is that sometimes these laws may result in women being disproportionately prosecuted. Many women find it difficult to negotiate safer sex or to disclose their status to their partner.

What are the alternatives? UNAIDS recommends that instead of applying criminal law to HIV transmission, governments should expand programmes proven to have reduced HIV infection. At the moment, there is no information indicating that using criminal law will work.

Canada: Another Ontario man accused of HIV exposure

A 24 year-old migrant has been arrested in a suburb of Toronto accused of aggravated sexual assault because he did not disclose his HIV status to a 21 year-old woman with whom he had consensual sex earlier in the year.

Although bloggers suggest the man is from Ethiopia, this is not clear in the Canadian reports, of which the one from CityNews is typical, which appear to be based on a police press release ‘fishing’ for more complainants.

Man Accused Of Knowingly Spreading HIV To Woman
Tuesday June 24, 2008
CityNews.ca Staff

A 24-year-old Brampton man is charged in a terrible case of aggravated sexual assault. But it’s what police say Yonatan Gezahegne Mekonnen didn’t tell his alleged 21-year-old victim that has cops worried.

Police contend the couple engaged in consensual sex back in January and February of this year, and that the accused was well aware that he was HIV positive at the time of the encounters – but never told the woman.

They accuse him of exposing her to the disease despite knowing he could easily pass it on to her – and by extension anyone else she may have been seeing. He was arrested on Thursday on two counts of aggravated sexual assault and made a court appearance last Friday.

But now cops are worried that other young women may have fallen under his spell and been exposed to the dangerous virus. They’re looking to speak to anyone who has had contact with Mekonnen in more than a casual way.

If you think you may have crossed his path, call the Peel Police Special Victims Unit at xxx-xxx-xxx or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at xxx-xxx-xxx.

US: Delaware considers mandatory HIV testing for alleged sex offenders

The US state of Delaware is proposing mandatory HIV testing of alleged sex offenders, within 48 hours of their arrest, if the alleged victim, or court, asks for it.

Unlike the existing law, the bill does not require that the state actually show some possibility that the virus may have been transmitted before requiring testing. The bill also authorizes testing around the time of arrest, instead of around the time of arraignment.


It’s not clear if this is primarily for the purposes of ascertaining whether PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) might be necessary for the alleged victim – which can be the only ethical reason for a change in the law.

Although PEP is thought to be most effective when taken within a few hours of exposure, current guidelines have a recommended maximum window of 72 hours from exposure, so the alleged attacker would have to have been arrested immediately after for that specific purpose.

However, an HIV antibody test would not be accurate enough to detect whether the alleged offender was recently infected with HIV himself (making him much more likely to expose his alleged victim to high enough levels of HIV to transmit the virus).

In any event, PEP should be offered to all alleged victims of sexual assault regardless of the perceived status of their alleged attacker.

One wonders whether the charges would be harsher if the alleged offender did not know his HIV status and transmitted HIV, or did know his HIV status but did not?

However, the story, from the Associated Press, via delmarvanow.com, hints that the change in law is primarily for political, funding reasons.

Supporters say passage of the bill would allow the state to continue to receive up to $500,000 a year in federal grants through the Violence Against Women Act.

DELAWARE: HIV testing eyed for accused sex offenders
June 5, 2008
Associated Press

DOVER — A Delaware House committee has released a bill that would strengthen HIV testing for accused sex offenders.

The bill requires an accused sex offender to submit to HIV testing within 48 hours of arrest, in response to a request from the alleged victim or a court order.

Defendants, including those whose initial tests were negative, also would have to submit to follow-up tests as deemed appropriate.

Unlike the existing law, the bill does not require that the state actually show some possibility that the virus may have been transmitted before requiring testing. The bill also authorizes testing around the time of arrest, instead of around the time of arraignment.

Supporters say passage of the bill would allow the state to continue to receive up to $500,000 a year in federal grants through the Violence Against Women Act.

UK: Scottish man accused of criminal HIV transmission; sensationalist reporting

I am incensed and outraged that journalist Charles Lavery (c.lavery@sundaymail.co.uk) has written, and the (Scottish) Sunday Mail has published, the article below.

It features an interview from a complainant in an ongoing criminal HIV transmission investigation which names the man he believes infected him with HIV. As far as I can tell, the man is only under investigation, and this article appears to be libelous (should it not say “allegedly infected”?) and obviously prejudicial.

It is also not clear how the quotes attributed to the accused were obtained (were the recordings legal?), and the language used in the article (“sex predator”, “deadly fullblown AIDS”) is inaccurate and, obviously, stigmatising.

I understand how distressed and angry ‘Alan’ must be to discover he is now HIV-positive, but going to the gutter press as well as the police is so incredibly counterproductive: doesn’t he realise that he is only adding to the stigma of his own HIV infection?

I urge any readers who feel similarly incensed to email Mr Lavery and/or comment on the paper’s website.

My lover didn’t tell me he had HIV
Mar 30 2008
By Charles Lavery
Exclusive: Dad Says Sex Predator Gave Him Disease

A SEXUAL predator who infected a father-of-three with HIV is being investigated by police.

[Full name of man], 40, admits he did not tell his unsuspecting victim he had been diagnosed as HIV positive six years ago.

[Name of man] – who could face five years in jail for his deadly deceit – still trawls gay websites for “one-on-one sex” while police examine his sexual history.

They fear he could have slept with – and potentially infected – dozens of partners.

Police now face the difficult task of trying to track down his conquests, who will be offered HIV tests and counselling.

His victim Alan, whose identity we are protecting, tested negative for HIV two weeks before he met martial arts expert [Name of man].

Alan, 32, said [Name of man] assured him he was also clear of the disease – which can go on to develop into deadly fullblown AIDS.

But after being tipped off that [Name of man], of [town in Scotland], had the virus, Alan arranged another test and was told he too was HIV positive.

He said: “[Name of man] never had the decency to tell me he was a carrier. He has stolen 20 years of my life.”

In a taped confession [Name of man] admits:

“I gave him HIV. I have had a dozen sexual partners since I was diagnosed six years ago and I have told each and every one of them. Why I didn’t tell Alan I don’t know.

“I always meant to and then we had sex. By that time it was too late.”

The pair met on the Chatterbox UK website and struck up a friendship before arranging a date.

Alan says he asked about safe sex but [Name of man] told him he had been given the allclear so there was no need.

[Name of man] is still listed on various online gay exchange networks looking for sex. Alan told the Sunday Mail:

“[Name of man] told me he was clean because I asked him outright.

“He is a fit-looking guy who goes to the gym and has a good body for his age but that’s all to mask his illness.

“I know I was clear before I met him as I take regular health checks because of my lifestyle.”

Alan’s life fell apart when he got an email from one of [Name of man]’s friends asking: “How’s your health?”

He said: “I replied, ‘What do you mean?’ His reply made my heart stop.

“It said, ‘How are your bloods?’

“I called [Name of man] and he said he couldn’t bring himself to tell me because he couldn’t bear to lose me.

“His family and friends all knew too but they told me they assumed I must be HIV positive too.

“I have been at their home eating Sunday dinner and listened to them telling [Name of man] what a nice couple we make.”

Within 24 hours of the bombshell email Alan had been diagnosed as HIV positive. A counsellor broke the news over the phone.

He said: “I spent three weeks in my bed after that phone call. He never had the decency to tellme he was a carrier.”

Last Sunday Alan walked into a police station in Glasgow and made a formal complaint.

But [Name of man]’s profile was still on networking site Gaydar, advertising for one-night stands and claiming he would “discuss” the use of condoms with any sex date.

He describes himself online as “single, fit, honest and looking”.

Alan said: “How many more are there like me? He was always online and always off meeting new people. I can only assume they too are none the wiser.

“I want to stop this man doing this to people. It’s too late for me but not for the people he is planning to meet.

“I want the world to know this guy is HIV positive and sleeping around. I hope he goes to jail for a long time. He has robbedme ofmy life – what price do you put on that?”

We tracked [Name of man] down last week to a flat he rents in Paisley.

He said: “I probably gave him it but until it’s proved I don’t want to say anything. He might have had other partners.”

Strathclyde Police said: “A 32-year-old man has made a complaint. Inquiries are continuing.”

‘I hope he goes to jail for a long time ..he has robbed me of my life’ VICTIM ALAN

MAILFILE

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) attacks the body’s ability to defend against disease. An all-timehigh 73,000 people in the UK are infected. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the latter stages of HIV when the sufferer has a life-threatening illness, such as pneumonia. For advice, call the Terrence Higgins Trust on 0845 1221 200 or the National AIDS Helpline on 0800 567123.

SUNDAY EMAIL

c.lavery@sundaymail.co.uk

Senegal: IAS outraged at arrest of gay HIV prevention workers

The International AIDS Society has issued a statement following the arrest of ten individuals some of whom are HIV education and prevention workers.

The full statement is below.

Statement on the Criminalization of Sexual Orientation in Senegal
19 February 2008 (Geneva, Switzerland / Abuja, Nigeria)

As the principal convener of the International AIDS Conference, and as an organizing partner of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), the International AIDS Society (IAS) is firmly committed to an evidence-based response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, based on sound science. It is therefore with great concern that we note recent developments in Senegal that led to the arrest of 10 individuals based on their sexual orientation, some of whom are HIV education and prevention workers in Senegal.

The IAS is the world’s leading association of HIV professionals, with more than 10,000 members working at all levels of the global response to HIV/AIDS. Our members represent scientists, clinicians, and public health and community leaders on the frontlines of the epidemic in 171 countries worldwide.

The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) is an independent association of HIV professionals in Africa, and the custodian of ICASA, the biennial regional AIDS conference in Africa. The next ICASA is scheduled to be held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2008. Specifically for this reason, and to echo recent statements made by human rights organizations, IAS and SAA express our deep concern with the recent arrests in Senegal.

Senegal has long been viewed as a model, given its success in controlling HIV/AIDS, which has affected other parts of Africa so severely. The success of the Senegalese response to HIV/AIDS has been the country’s ability to involve all segments of society as part of the national efforts on HIV education, prevention, care and treatment. Senegal is a country with strong faith traditions. And through tolerance and faithful collaboration, public health leaders in Senegal have long been able to work with socially marginalized populations such as commercial sex workers, migrant workers, and men who have sex with men, to create model HIV prevention programs. Central to this success is that Senegalese HIV programs have not discriminated against individuals based on sexual orientation. This approach in Senegal is a model for much of the world, and has proven successful despite concerns of some political and ideological leaders.

From the perspective of science and sound public health policy, the IAS believes that all countries around the world must work respectfully with all segments of their population to stem the tide of inequality and to support disease prevention. Criminalizing sexual orientation has never led to positive results – and has never shown to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. Evidence shows us that criminalizing and discriminating against any group of individuals only serves to fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic by denying services and relevant prevention messages.

“The arrest of these men, based purely on their sexual orientation, is completely unfounded, and represents a major setback for the Senegalese response to HIV, which is widely viewed as a model in Africa,” said IAS President Dr. Pedro Cahn.

The Society for AIDS in Africa, the custodian of ICASA, considers Senegal as a model of best practices for AIDS work in the continent, but opposes any form of discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation.

IAS would like to continue supporting the upcoming ICASA Conference in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2008. IAS and SAA would be better assured of the appropriateness of their continued support if it were to be made clear that those arrested recently in Dakar, primarily based on their sexual orientation, will not be charged as criminals. It would be further reassuring to know that the individuals who have been arrested, and their peers, are still welcomed to work alongside Senegalese public health officials on all aspects of HIV/AIDS programming in their country.

Egypt: More HIV-positive men arrested

The BBC NEWS website is reporting that four more men suspected of being HIV-positive have been arrested in Egypt, bringing the total to twelve. For more on this appalling human rights violation, see this post.

“These cases show Egyptian police acting on the dangerous belief that HIV is not a condition to be treated but a crime to be punished.”
Gasser Abdel-Razek
Human Rights Watch

Egypt police ‘widen HIV arrests’
Published: 2008/02/15 16:28:10 GMT

Egyptian police have arrested four men suspected of being HIV positive, bringing the total detained in a recent crackdown to 12, rights groups say.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that HIV-positive Egyptian men had been chained to hospital beds and forced to undergo tests for the virus.

The latest arrests took place after police followed up information coerced from men already detained, HRW said.

The Egyptian interior ministry has not responded to the allegations.

In a joint press release, Amnesty International and HRW warned that Egypt’s efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly virus could be seriously damaged by the arrests.

“This not only violates the most basic rights of people living with HIV. It also threatens public health, by making it dangerous for anyone to seek information about HIV prevention or treatment,” said Rebecca Schleifer, who works on HIV/Aids issues at HRW.

Two of the newly-detained men tested positive for HIV, and are awaiting further hearings, HRW said.

Homosexuality ‘tests’

The rights organisations say a wave of arrests began in October 2007, when two men were arrested after a scuffle in central Cairo.

When one said he was HIV-positive they were taken to the police branch which deals with issues of public morality, HRW said.

Both men said they had been beaten for refusing to sign statements written by the police and subjected to anal examinations to “prove” that they had engaged in homosexual conduct, the group said.

Two more men were arrested when police found their photographs and contact numbers in the wallets of those detained, HRW said.

All four men, who have not been identified, remain in custody pending a prosecutor’s decision on possible charges.

Four further arrests were made in November when police raided the flat of one of those being held, which had been placed under surveillance, HRW reports.

Those four men were sentenced to one year in jail in January having been convicted of “habitual debauchery”, which Human Rights Watch says is a euphemism used to penalise consensual homosexual acts.

Their lawyers claimed the prosecution had produced no evidence against the defendants, who pleaded not guilty.

All those who have tested positive have been held, chained to their beds, in Cairo hospitals, the rights groups said.

While not explicitly referred to in Egypt’s legal code, homosexuality can be punished under several different laws covering obscenity, prostitution and debauchery.

Egypt has come under repeated criticism by both human rights groups and the international community for its treatment of homosexual people.

“These cases show Egyptian police acting on the dangerous belief that HIV is not a condition to be treated but a crime to be punished,” Gasser Abdel-Razek, HRW’s acting director of regional relations in the Middle East, told the BBC.