HIV-positive transgender sex worker on trial for secretly infecting client
A transgender sex worker is on trial on a charge of grievous bodily harm, filed by a client who claims she gave him HIV.
Sienna Fox has pleaded not guilty, saying that two crucial issues with the case are “communication” and “transmission”.
Prosecutor Ben Stanwix told the jury at the District Court of Western Australia that Fox visited the WA Substance Users Association in August 2014 to be tested for sexually transmitted infections.
The following month, nurse Joanne Morgan visited her house to let her know that she was HIV-positive and gave her information, including her disclosure obligations.
The court was told that she didn’t want to face up to reality and continued to advertise her sex business online while ignoring calls from the hospital.
Defence councillor Simon Freitag disputed whether Morgan had accurately communicated the diagnosis because as Morgan herself admitted, she was dealing with her own personal issues at the time, and was not the “stereotypical image” of a nurse.
It was also brought into question why Morgan visited Fox at home – where she and her flatmate worked, and while her drug dealer was present – to tell her the news.
Two months after her diagnosis, Fox met the complainant, who cannot be named.
They continued to see each other until August 2015, because she had told him that she was regularly checked for sexually transmitted infections.
It wasn’t until September that the complainant saw a doctor after falling ill and found out that he was HIV-positive.
Prosecutor Stanwix said that Fox had been criminally negligent, as she knew that she had the disease and did not take reasonable precautions to protect the complainant from it.
Freitag asked whether the complainant was exclusively having sex with Fox, and the court heard that the pair had developed a relationship.
Fox was said to have become jealous when she thought that he was seeing another transgender woman.
It has not been confirmed how the virus was transmitted to the complainant, so transmission by Fox is not certain.
Representatives from the advocacy group People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia appeared in court to support Fox.
Its president, Rebecca Davies, said: “We are concerned that the person is not going to be given a fair trial … safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party.”
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It is unknown as to whether Fox will be staying in a male or female prison for the duration of the trial.
She is due to undergo an assessment to determine which would be safer for her.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrective Services said that “all individuals are assessed and treated with dignity and care. Assessments include risk factors such as vulnerability and self-harm.
“The department will comply with the WA gender reassignment Act 2000.”
The trial is set to continue for the next few days.