Warning over HIV stigma as man found guilty of infecting former partners
2018-07-15 13:44:03 -
Photo source: HIV Ireland

By Staff Reporter

A man of African descent has been found guilty of intentionally transmitting HIV to two former partners.

In the first case of this type in Ireland, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard from the State that the man knew of his diagnosis when he infected the women and that this amounted to serious harm.

The Dublin-based 28-year-old man, who has not been identified in order to protect the identities of the two women, had pleaded not guilty to deliberately or irresponsibly causing serious harm to the two partners between November 2009 and June 2010.

It took the jury of nine women and three men over four hours following an 11-day trial to return a guilty verdict on both charges.

Application for bail by the man’s defence was refused by Judge Martin Nolan, who said there was a chance he could flee the State. The man faces a maximum of life imprisonment and will be sentenced on 26 July.

Meanwhile, an organisation which promotes HIV testing, safer sex and support has said the guilty verdict puts a spotlight on HIV transmission in Ireland.

HIV Ireland added that when HIV is undetectable, it is also not transmittable — and that this particular case raises a number of issues.

“It is crucial to emphasise that this is an isolated incident,” said Niall Mulligan, executive director with HIV Ireland.

“The case is less about HIV transmission per se, and more about one person recklessly and knowingly putting another person at risk. We know that people living with HIV, who are compliant with their treatment, and have an undetectable viral load, cannot pass the virus on to someone else.”

Mulligan said international HIV medical experts, including the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, agree with his organisation’s position.

“Without such understanding, myths about HIV transmission will continue to feed into the stigma around HIV which impacts negatively on the lives of over 5,000 people living with HIV in Ireland today,” Mulligan said.
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