Man found guilty of intentionally infecting partners with HIV in landmark legal case
An Irish man has been found guilty of causing serious harm after “recklessly” infecting his partners with HIV in a landmark legal case.
The jury in the case, the first of its kind in Ireland, heard that the 28-year-old man was aware of his diagnosis when he began sexual relations with the women, and that this amounted to serious harm.
After an 11-day trial, the jury found him unanimously guilty on both charges, for which the maximum possible punishment is life in prison.
The man – kept anonymous to protect the complainants’ identities – is due to be sentenced before the end of the month.
In his closing remarks, the legal counsel for the prosecution Dominic McGinn said: “He knew full well he was HIV positive. He was advised about having safe sex.
He admitted that to gardaí and he was given anti-viral medication and he didn’t take it.”
The behaviour was “reckless” Mr McGinn added. The man had denied all charges before being found guilty of intentionally causing harm to the women between November 2009 to June 2010.
Groups campaigning for the rights of HIV-positive people stressed that the rare case was an isolated incident.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland, said: “The case is less about HIV transmission per se, and more about one person recklessly and knowingly putting another person at risk.
We know that people living with HIV, who are compliant with their treatment, and have an undetectable viral load, cannot pass the virus on to someone else.”
He added that it was to understand that an undetectable HIV virus means an untransmitable HIV virus.
“Without such understanding, myths about HIV transmission will continue to feed into the stigma around HIV which impacts negatively on the lives of over 5000 people living with HIV in Ireland today.”
Earlier this year 27-year-old Daryll Rowe was sentenced to life in prison after deliberately trying to infect ten men in England, five of whom later went on to develop HIV.
The former hairdresser was also sentenced to eight years in prison in a separate trial in Scotland, again for deliberately passing on the virus to men that he had met on Grindr.
Stigma against the disease is prevalent, even though it cannot be passed on when effectively treated.
A joint survey by pollsters YouGov and sexual health charity, Terence Higgins Trust, found that half of the respondents within the LGBT community did not know that the disease could not be transmitted when taking effective medication.