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Salon CMAJ Prosecuting for knowingly transmitting HIV is warranted A bout 6 years ago I met a new and maliciously and should be held ac- The absence of standard prosecutorial patient who was told on her countable by the state for his conduct. criteria for triggering criminal charges in 19th birthday that she was HIV Some argue that criminal prosecution cases of HIV transmission has fed the infected. She had been in a relationship will dissuade persons from being tested solipsistic opposition to the appropriate with a man 8 years older. Although he for HIV and therefore promote HIV application of criminal law. UNAIDS knew that he was HIV positive, she did transmission by these persons who do opposes the prosecution of those who do not. He had been thoroughly counselled not know their HIV status. But what and knew all about HIV transmission. about persons at high risk, who have The patient fell in love with this man. been told that they exhibit the classic He did not disclose his status. They ini- physical signs of HIV infection and have tially used condoms but after a while he been counselled on transmission and pre- began to cajole her, saying that condoms vention? Such persons should not be ex- were unnecessary and that he had no in- cused from criminal liability for non- fections, specifically HIV. He lied to disclosure and deliberate infection of her, exploited her affection for him, re- others simply because they have de- assured her and charmed her. She agreed clined HIV testing. Still, it would be out- not to use condoms and he infected her. rageous to apply criminal law in the case The patient was devastated and felt of an HIV-infected woman about to be that he should be stopped from infecting raped, for her failure to disclose. Simi- others in the same fashion. She called the larly, criminal prosecution would be in- police and public health authorities, but appropriate in the more common situa- Fred Sebastian neither responded. About a year later, by tion of an HIV-infected woman who chance, she met another young woman risks harm or being killed if she discloses who this man had tried to seduce without to her male partner. It is time to establish condoms, lying about his status. Lucky the reasonable threshold of HIV trans- for her, the young woman refused. My not know their status.3 Such speculation mission behaviour that should justifiably patient was furious and again called the
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