A gay gang that allegedly lured victims on the Internet and drugged them and raped them to infect them with the HIV virus has shocked the Netherlands.

Police say they have arrested three gay men after four victims, aged 25 to 50, accused them of rape and premeditated bodily harm.

In some cases, the victims were raped and then injected with HIV positive blood.

A fourth man who allegedly supplied the three suspects with several litres of GHB, the date-rape drug, and ecstasy tablets was also arrested.

Health Minister Ab Klink described the case as “horrible.”

One of the suspects is a male nurse, and each suspect faces up to 16 years in prison.

Police and prosecutors say that since the case has hit the media spotlight, eight more victims have come forward.

Ronald Zwarter, the police chief of Groningen, where the alleged crimes took place, said two of those accused had confessed.

He told AFP: “Their motive was that it excited them.”

Said Henk Krol, the editor of a gay magazine Gaykrant said: “These people were drugged, it’s therefore rape, pure and simple. It’s shameful, disgusting and terrifying. Those who did this are crazy.”

The men were invited to gay orgies via the Internet, and were drugged via drinks when they arrived.

Meanwhile, many have blamed gay orgies frequent in the Netherlands for a steady increase in HIV/AIDS rates.

Critics have worried that a case this extreme may have a negative affect on liberal views on gay rights in the country, where same-sex marriage has been legal for six years.

A 2006 European poll found Dutch support for gay rights to be the highest in Europe at 82%.