An Australian grandfather deliberately made friends with gay men on the internet to infect them with HIV, a court was told today.

Michael Neal, 48, appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with attempting to infect people with HIV and rape.

He met victims including one who he allegedly drugged and raped, on the internet and persuaded them into unprotected sex, telling them he was HIV negative, the jury heard.

Mr Neal said he had told the sexual partners the truth, but police believed he would infect more men.

He was denied bail and will return to court in September.

A UK HIV sufferer became the first gay man to be convicted of recklessly passing on the HIV virus to another person in April 2006.