Canada: Nova Scotia court acquits young man with undetectable viral load of aggravated sexual assault for HIV non-disclosure despite no condom use

by Cecile Kazatchkine, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

On November 8 2013, the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia in Canada released a very encouraging decision in a case of HIV non-disclosure. A young man with an undetectable viral load who had not disclosed his HIV positive status to his sexual partner before engaging in unprotected sex was acquitted of aggravated sexual assault.

The couple had engaged in vaginal sex on three occasions. Twice, they used a condom. On the third occasion, however, it was found that they had unprotected vaginal sex without ejaculation. At no time, did the young man disclose his HIV status. In fact, the judge found that he had actively concealed that he was HIV positive to his sexual partner who had inquired about rumours that he had AIDS.

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Mabior and R. v. D.C., that a person living with HIV has a legal duty to disclose his or her HIV positive status to a sexual partner where there is a “realistic possibility of HIV transmission.” The Supreme Court was clear that where a condom is used and the HIV positive partner has a low viral load, there is no “realistic possibility of HIV transmission” and thus, no duty to disclose under the criminal law. These decisions were understood to mean that a person living with HIV must disclose his or her HIV positive status before having vaginal sex unless he or she uses a condom and has a low viral load.

None the less, the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia acquitted the young man, despite the factual finding that he had engaged in unprotected sex. The Court described two different routes to its conclusion.

The first route relates to the analysis of the consent given by the complainant. In Canada, one element that the prosecution must prove in a non-disclosure prosecution is that the complainant would not have consented to sex if he or she had known about his or her partner HIV positive status. At trial, the complainant testified that had she known that the accused was HIV positive she would not have had unprotected sex with him. But she also said that had she known that his risk of transmitting HIV was virtually non-existent, she would have consented.

As described by Justice Campbell, that the risk of transmission was infinitesimally small was the “true state of affairs” based on the evidence before the Court. Indeed, the unchallenged medical expert called by the defence testified that he did not believe that there was any risk of transmission in this case. He further concluded that “in an act of sexual intercourse someone with an undetectable viral load such as [the accused] had a one in one million chance of transmitting the virus. That might be as high as one in 500 000 (…)” and described the risk as “very close to zero.”

According to the Court, the complainant’s statement that had she known the extremely low degree of risk she would have consented to unprotected sex with the accused is part of the context that needs to be taken into account when determining whether the consent was vitiated or not. As summarised by Justice Campbell:

[t]o ignore [the complainant]’s acknowledgement that with full knowledge of the facts she would have had unprotected sex with [the accused] would amount to a strange privileging of half-truth, deception and misconception over truth. The truth is that she would have had unprotected sex with him had she known the facts. My conclusion is that her consent was not vitiated by the deception.

The second route relates to the realistic possibility of transmission. The Court found that that element had not been met either. This conclusion is at odds with the predominant interpretation of Mabior and D.C. — that unprotected sex, even with an undetectable viral load, would necessarily be considered as representing a “realistic possibility of transmission.”

In a recent decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal had ruled that there was no need for the Crown to bring medical evidence of “a realistic possibility of transmission” in each case. The Court of Appeal ruled that proving unprotected sex would be sufficient to establish “a realistic possibility of transmission” and that evidence of the accused’s exact viral load at the time and the associated degree of risk of HIV transmission would be irrelevant in such circumstances. (There was no medical evidence on the risks of transmission before the Ontario Court of Appeal or evidence of the accused’s viral load.)

The Provincial Court of Nova Scotia, however, did not accept that the Supreme Court of Canada or the Ontario Court of Appeal decisions had definitely closed the doors to different findings with respect to whether “a realistic possibility of HIV transmission” existed based on the medical evidence before the judge in a particular case.  Concerned about the potential for discrimination against people living with HIV in the absence of any risk, the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia stated that the Supreme Court decisions “can and should be interpreted in a way that in not incompatible with an approach that respects both the scientific evidence in each case and the fact finding role of trial courts.”  According to the Court, “[t]he Supreme Court did not intend (…) to impose evidentiary findings on trial courts that are incompatible with the evidence actually before those courts.”

In the case at bar, the medical evidence called by the defence was clear: the risk of transmission was approaching zero. The Court was careful to specify the risk determination was a finding of fact (versus a finding of law), specific to the case, and ruled that the legal conclusion arising from that fact was that, even in the absence of a condom, the legal test of a “realistic possibility of transmission” was not met.

This decision is an encouraging development in the law on HIV non-disclosure in Canada. While trial court decisions have limited precedential authority in the Canadian legal system, this decision remains important as it demonstrates that Mabior and D.C — which have been strongly criticised for being at odds with the science and previous case law — need not prevent science from prevailing over prejudice. Medical evidence can and should play a critical role in cases of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, something both defence lawyers and medical experts in HIV will need to be very mindful of.

Mainstream media news reports can be found here and here.  The full judgement is below.

R. v. J.T.C. 2013 NSPC 105 (November 8 2013)

Sweden: Court of Appeal acquits ‘HIV exposure’ case, recognises National Board of Health and Welfare endorsement of ‘Swiss statement’, Minister for Social Affairs will consider reviewing application of law

Today, the Court of Appeal for Skåne and Blekinge has acquitted a man from Malmö previously convicted of exposing four women to HIV on the grounds that since he had a stable undetectable viral load on antiretrovirall treatment with no other STIs he could not cause danger to another person.

He had previously been sentenced to a year in prison and and fined 150,000 kronor (€17,000) by the lower court, but was released last week pending the appeal after the Court consulted experts from the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (SMI).

A press release from the Swedish Courts notes the following (unofficial translation)

The Court of Appeal, for its assessment of the probability of transmission by sexual intercourse, had access to information other than that which existed at the district court. The Court of Appeal has obtained an expert opinion from the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) regarding the risk of transmission of HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse. Furthermore, Professor Jan Albert of the Karolinska Institute, was consulted as an expert.

For expert opinion and data Jan Albert has said it can be clearly concluded that the risk of transmission of HIV in vaginal intercourse without a condom is very low, provided that the HIV-infected party is on stable HIV treatment. For an HIV-positive patient to be considered to be on stable HIV treatment, as is apparent from the opinion, it requires that the patient has a consistently high adherence to their medication, that at least two consecutive viral measurements with 3-6 month intervals show that patient’s virus levels in the blood were below the lowest detectable levels in routine testing, and the patient does not carry any other sexually transmitted infection .

The Court of Appeal noted in its judgment that the investigation did not show anything other than the accused was on stable HIV treatment during the time that the charges related to, and based on what the SMI and Jan Albert have said about risk of infection, assessing the likelihood that sexual intercourse to which the charges relate means that the risk of HIV transmission was so small that no real danger could be presupposed. Since this does not meet the required elements of the crime of creating danger to another, the indictment was dismissed.

Major policy shift

The ruling reflects a major shift in policy announced last week by the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

In a press release entitled, ‘Effective treatment reduces the risk of infection by HIV’, the agency, which is part of the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, clarified the treating physician and the individual’s responsibility under the Communicable Diseases Act – which creates a ‘disclosure obligation’ for anyone with an infectious disease.

The criteria to not be legally bound to disclose are very similar to those set out in January 2008 by the Swiss Federal AIDS Commission’s ‘Swiss statement’. They are, as follows:

For treatment of HIV infection to be considered well-functioning, patients must be highly adherent to antiretroviral treatment. Virus levels in the blood should be tested regularly, verified by two measurements between three to six months apart and the result should be virus levels below 50 copies per milliliter.

Follow-up tests should be performed two to four times a year. No other ongoing sexually transmitted disease should be suspected, as this could increase the risk of infection. When these criteria are met, the SMI estimates that infectivity is minimized in a person infected with HIV similar to wearing a condom during sexual intercourse.

HIV infection is one of the dangerous diseases included under the Communicable Diseases Act. The law states that the attending physician has the responsibility to advise people with dangerous diseases of appropriate conduct. It also says that if the person knows, or has reason to suspect, that he or she is carrying a contagious disease that person is obliged to protect others from infection.

The attending physician, when he or she takes a position on the conduct that the individual should have, should consider that a person with HIV infection who is on well functioning treatment is not required to inform their sexual partners about their infection…

People who have HIV infection, however, must act on their own initiative if there is a significant risk, for example if he or she also gets another sexually transmitted infection. This is true no matter what advice the person has previously received by their treating physician. A significant risk includes situations when someone risks coming into contact with his or her body fluids, for example during blood tests, at the dentists, or during sex with a risk of bleeding.

Coaltion of HIV experts

The National Board of Health and Welfare was itself influenced by a coalition of HIV experts. An editorial by Johan Carlson (Director of SMI), Anders Tegnell  (State epidemiologist, SMI), Jan Albert (Professor of Communicable Diseases, Karolinska Institute and Senior Physician at Karolinska University Hospital) and

Anders Sönnerborg (Professor of Clinical Virology,Karolinska Institut and Senior Physician at Karolinska University Hospital) entitled ‘HIV is no longer a life-threatening disease’, also published last week, heralded this new (for Sweden) paradigm.

Today, 21 October, SMI publishes along with Reference Group for Antiviral Therapy (RAV) a report summarising the state of knowledge with regard to the significant reduction in infectivity in treated HIV infection.

SMI and RAV estimates that the infectivity of a patient living with HIV and who have been stabilized on treatment is very low by sexual contact and minimal if a condom is used in vaginal and anal intercourse. This applies provided that there is no other sexually transmitted infections that can affect the risk of HIV transmission. It is therefore important to always use a condom, especially to protect against other sexually transmitted infections, but also to minimize any residual infectious risk for HIV.

This knowledge provides two important conclusions. Firstly, we improve the chances of early diagnosis and initiate treatment as early as possible…

The second conclusion is that current knowledge about HIV will have to influence society’s attitudes to and treatment of people living with HIV. Knowledge about HIV, how the virus is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV, need to be improved in the whole society. Especially within the health care and disease control work, but it is equally important in other areas of society, such as education and social services, the media and the judiciary.

Minister for Social Affairs will consider reviewing application of law

Göran Hägglund, Sweden’s Minister for Social Affairs reacted to the report by telling Sweden’s public broadcaster, SVT, that he will consider reviewing the application of law as it relates to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.

“If you have an illness that has the potential to infect, it is reasonable to disclose,” he said. “I just think that one would like to know in this situation. But the application of law is another question. Where it is possible to discuss how the law looks and applied, it may be time to consider a change.”

This policy shift is a major victory for the advocates who have been working tirelessly to change Sweden’s draconian attitude towards people living with HIV, notably the partnership of RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education), HIV-Sweden and RFSL (the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) who have been lobbying and campaigning to raise awareness and advocate against Sweden’s over-punitive HIV-related policies.

Hägglund also reacted to a recently-published editorial by Marielle Nakunzi, a lawyer at RFSU, which argued that the justice system has such an outdated view of HIV that it still lives in the 1980s.

“It is a matter of making sure that we always have laws that are in tune with the state of knowledge available,” he told SVT. “Therefore, we should always consider the knowledge we have. It’s about educating the justice system.”

US: Updated advocacy tools – sample expert statement on transmission risk and US criminalisation map

The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) has updated two resources that could be helpful to HIV anti-discrimination advocates and attorneys representing PLWH. Together with the HIV Medicine Association (HIV MA), CHLP updated the Sample Expert Statement on HIV Transmission Risk describing in more detail the ways in which HIV is and isn’t transmitted.

Canada: Expert witness for prosecution, Robert Remis, subject of protest

Saturday, April 13, 2013 – At the Canadian Association of HIV/AIDS Researchers conference in Vancouver AIDS ACTION NOW! led people living with HIV, researchers, and doctors to stand in solidarity and call for members of the Canadian HIV research community to stop acting as paid expert witnesses on the side of Crown prosecutors in HIV non-disclosure trials.

US: HIV Medicine Association calls for repeal of HIV-specific laws

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has issued a strong statement urging the repeal of HIV criminalisation statutes in the United States.

The HIVMA statement, which represents physicians, scientists and other health care professionals across the United States, demands the following:

  • An end to punitive laws that single out HIV infection and other STIs and that impose inappropriate penalties for alleged non-disclosure, exposure and transmission
  • All state and federal policies, laws and regulations to be based on scientifically accurate information regarding HIV transmission routes and risk;
  • A federal review of all federal and state laws, policies, and regulations regarding the criminal prosecution of individuals for HIV-related offences to identify harmful policies and federal action to mitigate the impact of these laws, including the repeal of these laws and policies or guidance for correcting harmful policies; and
  • Promotion of public education and understanding of the stigmatising impact and negative clinical and public health consequences of criminalisation statutes and prosecutions.

The HIVMA statement is another extremely important development in the Positive Justice Project’s campaign to repeal HIV-specific criminal laws in the United States.

In March 2011, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) – a highly-respected organisation of public health officials that administer state and territorial HIV prevention and care programmes throughout the US – issued a similar statement.

The full HIVMA statement, which can be downloaded here, is published below.


(Approved: October 16, 2012)

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) represents physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who practice on the frontline of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIVMA strongly advocates public policies that are grounded in the science that has provided the tools and knowledge base to envision a world without AIDS.

Stigma and discrimination continue to be major impediments to the comprehensive response necessary to address the HIV public health crisis. Policies and laws that create HIV-specific crimes or that impose penalties for persons who are HIV- infected are unjust and harmful to public health around the world.

In the U.S., HIV criminalization has resulted in unacceptable human rights violations, including harsh sentencing for behaviors that pose little to no risk of HIV transmission. Thirty-two states and two U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal statutes. Thirty-two states have arrested or prosecuted individuals with HIV infection for consensual sex, biting and spitting. These laws and prosecutions unfairly target individuals with HIV infection and are not based on the latest scientific knowledge regarding HIV transmission, including the finding that transmission risk from biting or spitting is negligible.

Individuals with HIV infection can live healthy lives and approach near normal life expectancies with access to HIV care. Early diagnosis and effective management of HIV infection not only improves clinical outcomes for infected individuals but significantly reduces their risk of transmitting the virus to others. Laws that criminalize HIV infection discourage individuals from learning their HIV status and from receiving care. In doing so, they jeopardize the lives of HIV-infected individuals and place more individuals at risk of contracting an infectious disease that remains fatal if untreated.

HIV-specific criminalization fuels the stigma associated with HIV infection that slows efforts to combat the disease. Despite the availability of highly effective treatment for HIV infection, of the 1.1 million individuals living with HIV infection in the U.S., nearly 20 percent remain undiagnosed, only 37 percent are in care and just 25 percent have undetectable levels of the virus in their blood which makes it unlikely for them to be infectious to others.

All individuals must take responsibility for protecting themselves from HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). All persons engaging in unprotected or potentially risky sexual behavior are encouraged to discuss and disclose HIV and STI status except in situations where disclosure poses a risk of harm.

HIVMA Position: 

HIVMA urges a coordinated effort to address and repeal unjust and harmful HIV criminalization statutes. We support the following:

  • An end to punitive laws that single out HIV infection and other STIs and that impose inappropriate penalties for alleged nondisclosure, exposure and transmission;

    All state and federal policies, laws and regulations to be based on scientifically accurate information regarding HIV transmission routes and risk;

  • A federal review of all federal and state laws, policies, and regulations regarding the criminal prosecution of individuals for HIV-related offenses to identify harmful policies and federal action to mitigate the impact of these laws, including the repeal of these laws and policies or guidance for correcting harmful policies; and
  • Promotion of public education and understanding of the stigmatizing impact and negative clinical and public health consequences of criminalization statutes and prosecutions.


Exposing the 'Office of Medical and Scientific Justice' by Seth Kalichman

I posted earlier that AIDS Denialist and LA Private Investigator Clark Baker is focusing his attention on the US Military justice system. Baker’s storefront business, the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ) is paid by US taxpayers to bring AIDS denialists to the court. How are AIDS Denialists used as experts in legal cases?

Criminalization of Potential Exposure | HIV and the Law | CDC HIV/AIDS

During the early years of the HIV epidemic, a number of states implemented HIV-specific criminal exposure laws. These laws impose criminal penalties on living with HIV who know their HIV status and – who potentially expose others to HIV.

Evidence: Claims that phylogenetic analysis can prove direction of transmission are unfounded, say experts

I’m reproducing this news article I wrote for in case anyone hasn’t seen it, because it is a really important issue.  Claiming that phylogenetic analysis is so reliable as to be able to ‘prove’ who infected who in a criminal court case is reckless and somewhat self-serving.

A report from the United States published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims to show for the first time that direction of HIV transmission from one individual to another for use as evidence in criminal trials can reliably be established by phylogenetic analysis. However, international experts in phylogenetics who have acted as forensic advisors in criminal courts tell that the report “draws unwarranted conclusions”.

The report, co-authored by Michael Metzker, associate professor at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center and David Hillis, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Texas, details the phylogenetic analysis methodology used in two criminal HIV transmission cases in the United States, in Washington State in 2004 and Texas in 2009, respectively.

These cases were only the second and third times that phylogenetic analysis was used as evidence in a criminal prosecution in the United States, despite at least 350 convictions under HIV-specific and/or general criminal laws for HIV non-disclosure, alleged exposure and/or transmission since prosecutions began in the mid-1980s (CHLP, 2010). Of note, both of these cases involved allegations of multiple heterosexual transmissions from a single source. Such allegations are extremely rare in criminal cases.

Phylogenetic analysis requires the use of complex computational tools to create a hypothetical diagram (known as a phylogenetic tree) that estimates how closely related the samples of HIV taken from the complainant(s) and defendant are likely to be in comparison to other samples.

The report refers to several recent studies (including a 2008 study from Keele and colleagues) which suggest to the authors that a “significant genetic bottleneck” may occur during HIV transmission, and that at least three-quarters of infections may result from a single virus. It also notes that since HIV evolves rapidly following initial infection, this results in “increased diversity of HIV sequences within a newly infected individual.”

However, the report argues that if blood samples are taken from the accused and complainant(s) “shortly after a transmission event” the population of viral sequences in one individual would be expected to be more closely related to the population in the other(s) than other populations of viral sequences used for comparison. This is known as a “paraphyletic relationship.” The paper then suggests that “paraphyly provides support for the direction of transmission and, in a criminal case, could be used to identify the index case (i.e., source).”

In both cases, the investigators were blinded as to the identity of the accused and the complainants, which was only revealed in court once they had provided their report to the prosecution. Again, in both cases, the sample they identified as being the source of infection was that of the accused. It is unknown how much weight the judge and jury gave to the phylogenetic reports, but it is known that the prosecution provided a great deal of supporting evidence – including, in the Texas case, contact tracing and HIV testing of most of the complainants’ prior sexual partners – and that it was the totality of such evidence that led to guilty verdicts and lengthy prison sentences in both cases.

The paper and its assertions have been widely disseminated via a press release and several articles primarily aimed at the scientific community. Such articles include quotes from the investigators that suggest their methods are unquestionably sound and it was this evidence alone that led to the guilty verdicts. “This is the first case study to establish the direction of transmission,” Professor Metzker was quoted in an AFP story with the headline ‘ Lab detectives use science to nab HIV criminals’.

He asserted to the American Statesman that “[our analysis] provided sound scientific evidence of the direction of transmission, and from that we could identify the source.”  The article also quotes the main prosecutor in the Texas case, who characterises phylogenetic analysis as “good evidence”.  Of note, the defence attorney in the case is quoted as saying they were unable to find an expert to testify in court against the reliability of Hillis and Metzker’s findings.

“It made a lot of difference in trying the case because we couldn’t find an expert for our side,” he said.

However, Professor Metzker’s claims and the paper’s assertion that he and his colleagues have established that their methodology is both a new and reliable method of proving the direction of transmission has been questioned by several international experts contacted by All of the experts have served as witnesses in criminal trials outside of the United States.

These experts all agree that phylogenetic analysis remains an informed but sometimes imperfect estimate of the relationship between viruses. Although there are a variety of methods by which it is possible to increase the confidence that the samples are very closely related in comparison to other samples, there could never be complete confidence that the defendant infected the complainant(s) based on phylogenetic analysis alone.

Anne-Mieke Vandamme, a professor at Leuven Catholic University and Rega Institute in Belgium, has serious reservations regarding the paper’s assertions. “This paper draws unwarranted conclusions,” she tells “There is still the possibility that there is a missing link, a consecutive transmission with an intermediate missing link. I would only use such paraphyletic clustering to exclude a direction of transmission. The elimination of all other possible contacts is something to be done outside the phylogenetic analysis.”

Jan Albert, a professor at the Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, tells that “the study suggests, but does not prove, transmission between the examined persons. The main reason for the caveat is that the analyses do not exclude the existence of unsampled persons belonging to the same clusters. The paraphyly does not exclude this possibility. In light of this it is surprising that only 20 local controls were investigated in the Washington case and none in the Texas case.”

Thomas Leitner, staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, tells that the methodology described in the paper to test the hypothesis of direction of transmission is not, in fact, new, and that along with co-author Walter Fitch he published a paper outlining a similar methodology eleven years ago. (Leitner T, Fitch WM 1999) He adds that his research suggests that even when all persons involved in an alleged transmission chain are sampled, it may still be the case that the two closest samples in a phylogenetic tree are two individuals who may not have ever met.

Professor Vandamme is also lead author of a paper currently in press with The Lancet Infectious Diseases along with several authors including Professor Albert and Dr Anna Maria Geretti, of University College London Medical School, Royal Free Hospital, in London, which highlights the substantial risk of miscarriages of justice based on a flawed view of the science behind phylogenetic analysis. It concludes, in concurrence with a briefing paper co-authored by Professor Vandamme and Dr Geretti and published by NAM and NAT in 2007, that the only ‘safe’ use of phylogenetic analysis in criminal HIV transmission cases is to exonerate the accused.

A fuller discussion of how phylogenetic analysis and other evidence can – and cannot – be used to establish the fact of transmission from the accused to  complainant(s) in a criminal case can be found in the ‘Proof’ chapter of NAM’s new international resource, HIV and the criminal law.


Scaduto DI et al. Source identification in two criminal cases using phylogenetic analysis of HIV-1 DNA sequences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print November 15, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015673107, 2010.

Abecasis AB et al. Science in court: the myth of HIV ‘fingerprinting’. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2010 (In Press).

Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, Vol.1, CHLP’s Positive Justice Project, First Edition, Fall 2010.

Leitner T, Fitch WM The phylogenetics of known transmission histories. Pp. 315-345 in K. A. Crandall. Molecular Evolution of HIV. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD 1999.

Ireland: Police HIV risk “as likely as being struck by asteroid”; compensation slashed

The risk faced by Irish police of occupational exposure to HIV and other blood-borne infections is “as likely as being struck by an asteroid,” according to expert testimony during a test compensation case conducted by Ms Justice Mary Irvine in July 2009 following a high level of compensation claims involving fear of transmission of such diseases coming before the Irish courts.

Since then, reports today’s Irish Independent, compensation payouts have been reduced from “upwards of €50,000” to between €5000 and €7000.

Full story below.

Garda payouts for injury fears slashed due to ‘tiny’ HIV risk
By Ray Managh
Tuesday July 13 2010

COMPENSATION for gardai claiming they suffered anxiety after minor scrapes with potential drug addicts has been slashed after the risk of illness was deemed to be “as likely as being struck by an asteroid”.

After a test case was taken before the High Court, damages for stress were yesterday cut to well below what can be awarded by the District Court.

But while this will save the State in compensation costs, the final bill will more than quadruple after legal costs are included.


Some judges, have, in the past, awarded gardai in similar cases upwards of €50,000 at a time when no significant attempt had been made to test for HIV contamination.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine conducted a test case during which she heard from medical experts that the risk of a garda contracting diseases from drug addicts was as likely as being struck by an asteroid.

Since delivering her judgment, Ms Justice Irvine has significantly reduced that element of compensation relating strictly to anxiety about contracting an anti-social disease.

Yesterday, she reminded authorities of the need to allay garda fears through continued education about the remote risk of infection. She said in incidents of injury it was important to carry out tests on assailants.

Gda Cormac McAvock, of Oranhill, Oranmore, Galway, was awarded €7,000 for anxiety and physical injury he suffered while making an arrest when he was stationed in Mullingar.

He did not know what had caused a finger wound but had been advised to have blood tests. He did not have counselling and had not asked that his assailant be tested for HIV.

Gda Gerard Ryan, of The Grove, Louisa Valley, Leixlip, Co Kildare, was awarded €5,000 for stress suffered after he was injured during an arrest.

Ms Justice Irvine said he had believed he had been bitten by his assailant who was not a known drug user and he had been advised of the very minute risk of infection.