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, 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 ( 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


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.


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.

Singapore: Government plans to criminalise ‘risky sex’ without prior disclosure

An interesting article from Bloomberg (which is usually more associated with business news than with HIV policy) on Singapore’s worrying plans to criminalise people who do not disclose they have previously had “unsafe” sex, and have “reason to believe” they may be HIV-positive, previously reported here last September.

Offenders would face as much as 10 years in prison and a S$50,000 fine. Penalties for those who know they’re HIV-positive and don’t inform their partners, already a crime under legislation that took effect in 1992, would be increased to the same level. No one has been prosecuted under the existing law.

Enforcement would depend on an aggrieved partner filing a complaint and prosecutors proving that a defendant had a history of high-risk sexual behavior.

HIV Ignorance Is No Defense in Singapore Plan to Curb Risky Sex

By Simeon Bennett

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) — Every weekend, men from Singapore take a one-hour ferry ride to Indonesia’s Batam Island for cheap golf, beer and sex.

About S$70 ($49) hires an island prostitute for the day, compared to just an hour with a Singapore hooker. The trade has contributed to a doubling of Singapore’s HIV infection rate in the past 10 years, the government says.

The city-state proposes to curb infections by making it a crime for those who engage in such unsafe practices, and thus have “reason to believe” they may be HIV-positive, to have sex without informing their partners of the risks. United Nations groups and AIDS activists say that would violate human rights and increase infection rates by encouraging anonymous sex.

“Stigma and discrimination are major drivers of the HIV epidemic,” Dr. Roy Chan, president of the Singapore advocacy group Action for AIDS, said in written comments on the legislation, which may be considered by parliament this month. “The net effect will be poorer control of HIV infection.”

The government disagrees, saying the bill would encourage people to get tested and avoid risky behavior such as having unprotected gay sex or frequenting prostitutes. Violators may be prosecuted even if they don’t test positive for HIV.

“We’re trying to find a way essentially to ask them to be responsible for their own actions,” said Koh Peng Keng, the Health Ministry’s senior director of operations. “There is a greater impetus to get more people to come forward for testing.”

No ‘Witch Hunt’

Offenders would face as much as 10 years in prison and a S$50,000 fine. Penalties for those who know they’re HIV-positive and don’t inform their partners, already a crime under legislation that took effect in 1992, would be increased to the same level. No one has been prosecuted under the existing law.

Enforcement would depend on an aggrieved partner filing a complaint and prosecutors proving that a defendant had a history of high-risk sexual behavior.

“It’s never the intention to go on a witch hunt,” Koh said. “It’s going to help in public education.”

The government also plans to double spending on AIDS prevention programs to S$8 million annually for the next three years, he said.

Zack, a self-employed electrical engineer who suspects he contracted HIV from a prostitute, isn’t convinced of the government’s motives, especially considering that gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

“People are going to hide,” said Zack, 36, who spoke on condition his real name not be used for fear of losing his business.

Infected for Years

Singapore’s HIV infection rate has doubled in the past 10 years. About 1 in 10,000 people were newly infected in 2006, compared with fewer than 0.5 in 1996, according to government statistics. More than half of those diagnosed in 2006 also had AIDS, indicating they’d been infected for years without knowing it, Koh said.

In total, about 7 of every 10,000 people in Singapore have HIV, the government says.

UNAIDS estimates the rate may be as high as 30 once undiagnosed cases are included. That’s higher than estimated infection rates in other developed Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea. Singapore’s rate is lower than in neighboring nations, including Malaysia and Thailand.

The UN agency calculated its figure from government data for high-risk groups — including prostitutes and their customers, gay and bisexual men, and intravenous drug users — and statistics provided by HIV and pregnancy clinics.

UN Opposition

Seema Paul, chief policy coordinator for Geneva-based UNAIDS, said the Singapore bill would force people to get HIV tests, putting them at risk of discrimination and violence if others learned they were HIV-positive.

“We have consistently advocated that HIV testing should be voluntary,” she said in an e-mail.

Stuart Koe, chief executive officer of media company Fridae Ltd., said those who contract HIV won’t disclose the names of their partners to doctors for fear of being prosecuted, and that will contribute to spreading the disease.

“There’ll be a lot of unexpected negative effects,” said Koe, who works with AIDS support groups in Singapore and whose company runs a gay Web site.

The groups primarily responsible for spreading HIV in Singapore are men who visit prostitutes, and gay and bisexual men, the government says.

Refusing Condoms

In Batam, brothels occupy storefronts scattered among homes, shops and bars like the PP Banana Laptop Lounge. Pimps ply their trade wherever foreigners are found.

The AIDS rate in the province including Batam is the third- highest in Indonesia after Papua and Jakarta, the national AIDS commission said on its Web site.

Ayu, a 28-year-old prostitute, said most of her clients are married Singaporean men and not all practice safe sex.

“Sometimes the customer does not want a condom,” she said, her purple eye shadow sparkling under neon lights. “I cannot force.”

Like many Indonesians, Ayu uses only one name.

Koh said the government works with activist groups to educate men before they get on the Batam ferry. Those efforts include handing out condoms and HIV prevention information.

“There’s this huge reservoir of people who are HIV-positive and may not know,” he said. “Once someone knows they’re positive, typically they change behavior.”

Canada: Ontario paper reflects on the impact of recent prosecutions

A surprisingly balanced piece of reporting from the London (Ontario) Free Press, regarding recent prosecutions for HIV exposure or transmission, appeared on Saturday.

Five local cases are highlighted:

  • Edward Kelly, who, in 2003, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault (HIV exposure) because he failed to disclose his HIV status to his female sexual partners. After serving almost three years in prison, he was charged again for the same offence with a different woman. His case is due in court tomorrow.
  • Tendai Mazambani, who was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault in October 2006. A preliminary hearing is due soon in an Ontario Court.
  • Mark Hinton, whose aggravated sexual assault charge was dismissed last week.
  • Ryan Handy, who was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault, and is due to be sentenced on March 27th.
  • Owen Antoine, who was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and criminal negligence causing bodily harm last month.

Fair play or morality play?

There’s a debate brewing over whether the criminal courts are the proper jurisdiction for cases in which people have been infected with HIV by a sexual partner who knowingly didn’t disclose the condition, writes Free Press justice reporter Jane Sims

Barry Mann has been HIV-positive for 19 years and practises safe sex.

He learned to take precautions after watching many friends die of AIDS in the 1980s.

Now, at 53, he’s scared — not of infecting his sexual partners with the virus that causes AIDS, but of being accused of infecting them — and going to jail.

“To date, I haven’t had somebody who’s out to get me,” he says.

A recent criminal case in London — one of four HIV-related cases before the courts here and one in St. Thomas — has left Mann with an uneasy feeling the criminal courts are judging HIV-related cases on the basis of morality, not public protection.

Ryan Handy, 25, a young gay man with mental illness, was convicted last month of aggravated sexual assault. He testified that at one time he believed he had sweated out his HIV and was the Messiah.

After two unprotected sexual encounters with a 53-year-old man he met in an Internet chat room, Handy testified, he had a moment of clarity, realized he had the virus and immediately contacted the man and told him he was HIV-positive. His lack of disclosure of his HIV status required by law could send Handy to prison when he’s sentenced next month.

There is a debate brewing — and an opinion in the gay community — that the victim in the case, who has remained virus-free, should have taken care of his own sexual health while engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour and not be accusing a young, vulnerable man of a criminal act.

Mann says the courts should stay out of people’s bedrooms when it comes to disclosing HIV.

“It should not be tying up the courts,” he says. “It’s a health issue, not a criminal issue.”

Breakthroughs in treatment have allowed Mann and many other HIV-positive people to live with the virus for decades. He’s still legally obligated to tell his sexual partners he has the virus, something he admits doesn’t always happen because he uses protection.

“I am constantly floored by how many people are willing to have sex with me without taking precautions. I’m the one who has to stop them,” he says. “Society is still very nonchalant about this.”

– – –

It’s been 15 years since the death of Charles Ssenyonga, a man with a virulent strain of AIDS who was being tried for knowingly spreading the virus to several women — some of whom died — in London. He died just weeks before Superior Court Justice Dougald McDermid was to deliver a decision.

Half a generation later, there are suggestions it’s time for HIV to be taken out of the Criminal Code.

There have only been 29 HIV-related cases in Canada and six are before the courts. It appears the majority on trial now are in the London area. All the current London cases involve men — two straight and two gay — said not to have disclosed their HIV status to sexual partners.

In the cases of people maliciously spreading the virus, there’s a unified opinion inside and outside the criminal justice system those cases need to be tried criminally.

But in the Handy case, and in the Mark Hinton case that was dismissed this week, the facts involved allegations of consensual sex between people engaged in high risk activities. (Hinton, 41, who has been HIV-positive for 22 years, faced a charge of attempted aggravated sexual assault. A judge dismissed the charge).

Those cases, some activists say, could have best been handled by public health — not the criminal justice system that they say seems to judge morality and not promote public protection.

“If you take the HIV out of there, it’s still a crime,” says Peter Hayes, executive director of the AIDS Committee of London, about HIV cases involving sexual assault and intentional spread of the disease.

But, he says, “when we make it about HIV-only, the law can be misinterpreted, or situations are not being addressed in the best interests of public health.”

Hayes says cases like Handy’s and others go to the most intimate piece of a relationship and solidify the stigma attached to disease that has gone from a death sentence to an often controllable condition.

Prosecution of such cases leaves the community with a false sense of security, he says. The reality, he says, is that the vast majority of HIV-positive people disclose their status not just to their partners, but to family, employers, doctors and anyone they believe could be at risk.

The majority of new transmissions are in the straight community and come from people who haven’t been tested.

Brian Lester, director of prevention for the agency, says the best strategy to stop the transmission of the virus is to encourage testing and help people make informed decisions about their results. But criminalization “challenges that, he says.

“People don’t want to deal with what could be a reality in their life,” he says, and won’t get the test. “A fully informed individual making a choice not to use a condom is putting themselves at risk.”

Hayes says he’s concerned there’s not enough education in, and outside of, the criminal justice system about the virus and the disease.

He points to a 2003 study across Canada that showed people were less informed about HIV and AIDS than ever, with beliefs that only gay men and drug users and people living in Africa were at risk.

“Issues surrounding sex and drugs are being talked in a way that’s not about health but more about morality,” he says.

Lester says the health system has the tools to handle the cases.

Already, public health can issue orders that outline rules an HIV-positive person must follow, such as using condoms in all sexual encounters and not sharing needles. It also has the power to detain people, Lester says.

He adds the justice system adds to the stigma when prosecuting these cases as aggravated sexual assaults.

“I don’t understand the term sexual assault in consensual sex,” he says.

– – –

Even the failure to disclose during pillow talk needs to be prosecuted, some in legal circles say.

A London lawyer who successfully defended Hinton agrees HIV cases should be judged in criminal courts.

“It should absolutely be an offence,” says Ron Ellis. “Because you can’t consent to having sexual relations with someone if the act is so manifestly different than what you expected it was going to be.

“HIV changes the very nature and character of the sex you are consenting to such a degree.”

HIV still remains potentially life-threatening, he says, and although not necessarily a death sentence, it requires a lifetime of treatment and medications. It restricts freedoms and choice of sexual partners.

“It’s got to be worth something,” Ellis says.

If Hinton had been found guilty, Ellis notes, he would have faced a prison sentence of three to six years.

“I think its a crime to put somebody at risk,” Ellis says. “The law is you’ve got to disclose and it’s a good law. It’s there for the health and safety of the community.”

Dr. Bryna Warshawsky, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, says the spread of the virus is “certainly a health issue,” and adds it’s “very rare and unusual for people with HIV not to be responsible.”

– – –

The Ryan Handy case has become a rallying point for some in the gay community — a group of supporters was with him at his sentencing hearing last month.

Handy can be seen in a three-part interview on the Xtra magazine website denouncing what he calls unfair treatment by the criminal courts.

An editorial by managing editor Matt Mills in the gay magazine criticizing the victim in December prompted the victim in the Handy case to not submit a victim impact statement.

Mills says he thinks “it’s really important that folks who are in the position he is in have the opportunity to tell their stories.” He says his publication believes some men, particularly gay men, get “the short end of the stick on this legislation and these sentencing guidelines.

“We believe the criminal justice system is singularly unqualified and ill-equipped to handle this issue.”

The Supreme Court of Canada, Mills says, in its decision that HIV-positive people have a duty to disclose their illness before having unprotected sex, “has put us in a position we are at each other’s throat and suspicious of each other when it is a public health matter.”

Mann, who also recently completed treatment for Hepatitis C, agrees.

“Nobody forced their pants down. Nobody forced them to have sex. Everybody’s responsibility is to protect themselves.”

He fears that whether he discloses his health status or not in the bedroom becomes hearsay in a courtroom.

“I can disclose to somebody and they can turn around and say I didn’t disclose,” he says, adding he fears the issue could evolve into civil cases in which former lovers are pitted against each other.

“We’re already dealing with living with this disease and the stigma attached. We don’t need this on top of it.”


The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1998 that:

– HIV-positive people must disclose their status to sexual partners before having sex without a condom or sharing sex toys.

– They must tell people with whom they share drug equipment before sharing the equipment.

– Non-disclosure could lead to an order by a local public health unit that would outline rules that must be followed and could include using a condom in all sexual encounters or no sharing of needles.

– Criminal Code charges can be laid by a sexual- or needle-sharing partner. The charges range from common nuisance to aggravated sexual assault. Charges can be laid even if the partner is not infected.


– Edward Kelly, 31, was charged with aggravated sexual assault in May 2006, after a woman told police she had sex with a man who didn’t tell her he was HIV-positive. He is next in Superior Court on Feb. 12.

– Tendai Mazambani, 33, was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault in October 2006. He is expected to set a date for an Ontario Court preliminary hearing.

– The case against Mark Hinton, 41, was dismissed this week after his complainant admitted HIV status was not a concern to him before engaging in “moderately high risk” sexual activities. Hinton, who didn’t get the chance to testify, maintained he never had sex with the man.

– Ryan Handy, 25, a gay man who testified he is mentally ill and believed he sweated out his HIV, is to be sentenced for aggravated sexual assault March 27.

– Owen Antoine, 41, of Aylmer was convicted by a jury in St. Thomas this month of four charges, including aggravated sexual assault and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Antoine was diagnosed HIV-positive in December 2004. The victim, a 29-year-old woman, testified she was at a bar with Antoine in April 2006 and has no memory after she drank a shooter he said he took to her. She woke up hours later in bed with him and he told her they had unprotected sex. She has since tested positive for HIV. Antoine did not tell her he had the virus.

Australia: HIV-positive sex worker pleads guilty; NAPWA comments on stigmatising handling of case

The HIV-positive male sex worker named and shamed by Canberra health officials last week has pleaded guilty to providing a commercial sexual service while knowing he was infected with a sexually-transmitted infection (i.e. HIV) and failing to register as a sex worker.

The story is widely reported in the Australasian press, primarily via a report from the AAP.

The report says that it is illegal, under Australian Capital Territory (ACT) laws, to provide or receive commercial sexual services if the person knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, that he or she is infected with an STI. It is also illegal to work as a prostitute in the ACT without being part of a brothel or escort agency which is registered with the Office of Regulatory Services.

The man is expected to be sentenced on March 20th.

Australia’s National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) have strongly criticised the way Canberra’s public health officials handled the case, according to a report in Australia’s national gay and lesbian paper, SX, reports:

“The appropriate public health approach has not been followed in the case of Mr Hector Scott; instead he’s been subjected to trial by media … It appears ACT Health has panicked and bypassed the significant public health interventions at its disposal, choosing instead to refer this case to the police. This is not helpful … it perpetuates stigma against people with HIV, and it discourages people at risk of HIV from testing and treatment.”

NAPWA also slammed the decision by the ACT chief health officer to release personal details about the accused to the media. “For a government agency to release personal and confidential information in this way has been a great shock and affront to many of us … It is dangerous to the individual, dangerous to those who are by implication connected to his alleged activities, and dangerous for anyone living with HIV to see human rights and personal dignities trampled over in this way.”

Azerbaijan: 18 year-old girl accused of HIV transmission; UNICEF ‘alarmed’

Two reports from Azerbaijan news agencies are highlighting the case of 18-year-old Elnara Ahmadova, who faces sentencing tomorrow for ‘deliberate’ HIV transmission. The reports are somewhat confusing, but suggest that Elnara was diagnosed five years ago, and is/was a sex worker from an early age.

UNICEF has issued a statement which says it is “alarmed by the fact that the girl who is a victim of human trafficking, prostitution and pornography is being treated as a criminal.”

This report is from the Azeri-Press Agency.

Court to deliver sentence on case of Elnara Ahmadova accused of deliberately infecting 200 people with HIV in Azerbaijan

05 Feb 2008 17:30

On 6 February Nasimi district court will deliver a sentence on the case of an 18-year-old HIV-infected girl Elnara Ahmadova, facing criminal charges of deliberately infecting 200 people with the HIV. The court told APA that the trial will be held in the second half of the day.

Elnara Ahmadova faced charges under Article 140.1 (deliberately infecting a person with the HIV) of the Criminal Code. The person facing these charges may be punished by correctional labour up to two years, restriction of freedom up to two years, or imprisonment up to one year.

UNICEF Azerbaijan Country Office issued a statement concerning the trial of Elnara Ahmadova. “UNICEF is concerned that the girl child affected by the situations of sale, prostitution and pornography continued to be treated not as a victim, but as a perpetrator without any special protection. It is also regretful that the circumstances in which the minor girl was involved in prostitution could not be clarified,” the statement says.

UNICEF believes that children alleged to have committed crimes while they were children should be considered primarily as victims of adults who have broken international law by recruiting and using children in sexual exploitation in the first place, and that these children must be provided with assistance for their social reintegration.

“If in contact with a justice system, persons under 18 at the time of the alleged offense must be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards which provide them with special protection. UNICEF calls for making all efforts to ensure the human rights and dignity of the girl victim and provide her with every opportunity available for rehabilitation and protection against all kinds of discrimination and stigmatization,” the statement says.

This shorter report is from Trend News Agency.

UNICEF Alarmed by Conviction of Azerbaijani AIDS Carrier Girl
05.02.08 18:14

Azerbaijan, Baku, 5 February / Т corr F. Rzayev / The International organization UNICEF expressed its concern over the conviction of an Azerbaijani girl Elnara Ahmadova, 18, who is accused of deliberating spreading the HIV/AIDS infection.

“UNICEF is alarmed by the fact that the girl who is a victim of human trafficking, prostitution and pornography is being treated as a criminal,” the organization reported on 5 February.

On 6 February, the Nasimi District Court in Baku will voice a verdict on the case of Ahmadova, who is accused of contravening Article 140.1 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan (deliberately endangering others through HIV infection).

In 2003, Ahmadova was registered at the AIDS Centre. She was detained in July and accused of infecting over 100 men, mainly between 20-25 years old.

Egypt: Human Rights Watch highlights criminalisation of people with HIV

This blog is largely concerned with prosecutions for HIV exposure or transmission; often we refer to this in short-hand as ‘the criminalisation of HIV’.

But, according to a devastating news report today from Human Rights Watch, Egypt has criminalised people with HIV, after testing them without their consent.

The full, harrowing, report is below.

Egypt: Stop Criminalizing HIV

HIV-Motivated Arrests and Convictions Threaten Justice and Public Health

(New York, February 5, 2008) – A series of arrests in Cairo sparked by one man’s admission to police that he was HIV-positive endangers public health as well as human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch called on Egyptian authorities to overturn the convictions of four men for the “habitual practice of debauchery,” and to free four others who are held pending trial. The government should end arbitrary arrests based on HIV status and take steps to end prejudice and misinformation about HIV/AIDS.

“These shocking arrests and trials embody both ignorance and injustice,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt threatens not just its international reputation but its own population if it responds to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with prison terms instead of prevention and care.”

The arrests began in October 2007, when police stopped two men having an altercation on a street in central Cairo. When one of them told the officers that he was HIV-positive, police immediately took them both to the Morality Police office and opened an investigation against them for homosexual conduct. The two men told human rights defenders that they were slapped and beaten for refusing to sign statements the police wrote for them. They spent four days in the Morality Police office handcuffed to an iron desk, sleeping on the floor. Police later subjected the two men to forensic anal examinations designed to “prove” that they had engaged in homosexual conduct.

Human Rights Watch has documented that such examinations to detect “evidence” of homosexuality are not only medically spurious but constitute torture.

Police then arrested two more men because their photographs or telephone numbers were found on the first two detainees. Authorities subjected all to HIV tests without their consent. All four are still in detention, pending prosecutors’ decision on whether to bring charges of homosexual conduct. The first two arrestees, who reportedly tested HIV-positive, are being held in a Cairo hospital, handcuffed to their beds and only unchained for an hour each day.

Meanwhile, police apparently placed the apartment where one of the men had lived under surveillance. On November 20, two days after a new tenant had assumed the lease, police raided the apartment and detained four other men.

According to the arrest report, the men were fully dressed and were not engaging in any illegal acts at the time of the arrests. However, all were charged with homosexual conduct, apparently solely on the basis that they were found in a dwelling formerly occupied by one of the earlier detainees.

People who have spoken to the four men since their arrest told Human Rights Watch that a non-commissioned officer in the police station beat one detainee on the head several times. Police allegedly forced the four men to stand in a painful position for three hours with their arms lifted in the air. They were provided no food, drink, or blankets during their first four days of detention. Authorities also tested these men for HIV without their consent. One of the men reportedly said that the prosecutor, when informing him that he had tested positive for HIV, told him: “People like you should be burnt alive. You do not deserve to live.”

A Cairo court convicted these four men on January 13, 2008 under Article 9(c) of Law 10/1961, which criminalizes the “habitual practice of debauchery [fujur] – a term used to penalize consensual homosexual conduct in Egyptian law. According to defense attorneys, the prosecution based their case only on coerced and repudiated statements taken from the men, and neither called witnesses nor produced other evidence to counter the men’s pleas of not guilty. On February 2, 2008, a Cairo appeals court upheld their one-year prison sentence. One of them is held in a Cairo hospital, chained to his bed 23 hours a day.

“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,” said Long. “HIV tests forcibly taken without consent, ill-treatment in detention, trials driven by prejudice, and convictions without evidence all violate international law.”

In private letters sent to the Egyptian Public Prosecutor, Counselor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud Abdel Meguid, on November 29, 2007 and on January 8, 2008, Human Rights Watch expressed its grave concern about the arrests and their consequences for Egypt’s efforts against HIV/AIDS.

Human Rights Watch urged authorities to drop the charges, end the practice of chaining detainees in hospital, and ensure that the men receive the highest available standard of medical care for any serious health conditions. It also urged Egypt to undertake training for all criminal-justice officials on medical facts and international human rights standards in relation to HIV, and to halt immediately all testing of detainees without their consent.

Criminalizing consensual, adult homosexual conduct violates human rights protections to individual privacy and personal autonomy under international law. The apparent use of Article 9(c) in these cases to detain people on the basis of their declared HIV status, and to test them without their consent for HIV infection, also violates those international protections, and the right to bodily autonomy.

International human rights law clearly affirms that prisoners and detainees retain the absolute right to protection against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment – and enjoy the right to the highest attainable standard of health, as guaranteed in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Egypt has been party since 1982.