Sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has welcomed the acquittal of a gay man who was charged with ‘recklessly’ passing on HIV to his partner.
Kingston Crown Court cleared him of the allegations earlier today after the judge ordered the jury to do so, considering the defence’s case that it could not be proven that the defendant had infected his partner.
It also emerged that the man had been involved in unprotected sex with other HIV positive men.
Lisa Power, head of policy at THT said: “We welcome this verdict. Scientific evidence showing links between the type of virus infecting two people is not proof of direct transmission.
“Such evidence doesn’t give the same level of proof as DNA or fingerprint evidence, and it is important people realise this. In the light of this verdict, we hope that the Crown Prosecution Service and police forces will re-evaluate their approach to the use of scientific evidence in HIV transmission cases.”
It is the first time this charge has been cleared in court, most recently Mark James became the first gay man to be found guilty of reckless HIV transmission, he has been sentenced but has failed to turn up to hear his fate.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: “This judgment is an important landmark as it reveals the difficulty of using scientific evidence to prove that one individual has passed on HIV to another.
“HIV is a highly complex virus, with a great deal of stigma attached to it and we need to find an alternative way of dealing with the current epidemic rather than pursuing action through the courts. Prosecutions are simply not in the interests of public health.
“However, if cases of reckless transmission do come to court, all parties must have a clear understanding of the proper use of scientific evidence with awareness of its limitations.”