An Australian transgender woman has been sentenced to six years in a male prison for infecting a man with HIV.
Perth woman Sienna Fox had been found guilty of grievous bodily harm by having unprotected sex with a man and infecting him with HIV, which is a criminal offence in Australia.
Fox, who was a sex worker, has been jailed for six years this week – and willl likely be forced to serve out her sentence in a male facility.
The 40-year-old was sentenced by Judge Christopher Stevenson in the WA District Court today.
The judge was unmoved by pleas for leniency from her lawyers, who had claimed she had been denied hormone treatment in prison.
The sentence is likely to be served in the maximum security all-male Casuarina Prison.
Criminal laws around the transmission of HIV are controversial. Australia’s law is among the most severe.
The 40-year-old had visited a clinic called WA Substance Users Association in August 2014 in order to get tested for STIs.
Following the test, a nurse informed her that she was HIV positive.
Fox’s defence claimed that she could not be criminally negligent because she did not know of her status.
Defence councillor Simon Freitag disputed whether Nurse Joanne Morgan, who informed Fox of her HIV status by visiting Fox at her home to tell her, 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.
However, the prosecutor found that after Fox found out about her status she never returned follow up phone calls of messages.
She continued to advertise as a sex worker online and two months after her diagnoses she began to see the client, whose identity has been kept anonymous.
She saw the client for a period of ten months up until August 2015.
During this period of time, Fox reportedly told the client that she was being tested regularly for STIs.
The month following in September, the victim was informed that he too was HIV positive but by the time he had realised,Fox had left to live in New South Wales.
She was later found working under the name Sienna Fox and still advertising her services as a sex worker online.
The judge said in his ruling that she could not be granted bail because of the severity of the crime and the nature of harm done.
He acknowledged that being in a male prison would be “especially onerous” for Fox because of her gender identity but that he was not yet prepared to grant bail.
Fox, who committed the crime in Perth, Australia, has previously spent nine months in prison but was placed in a solitary cell.
However, the court heard that she was often searched by male guards.