18/03/08

Intentionally spreading HIV: Britain clears up the confusion

Some US States may be adding “sex offender” to the charge sheet of HIV-infected people having unprotected sex, but Britain is heading in the opposite direction. At least I think so.

New guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service suggests that people can’t be convicted for one-off acts of risk or folly. The original law dates back to 1861, long before HIV, and applies to all manner of sexually transmitted infections. The new guidance stresses that
1) an infected person has to have set out to infect another person on purpose
2) the other person has to have become infected.

None of this wishy-washy exposure stuff the Americans have on the table. No infection, no case. On the other hand, a person can be prosecuted even if they told their partner they were infected, which seems a bit harsh. Caveat Emptor, and all that.

Oh but wait, there are more provisions. If it’s deliberate, you can be prosecuted for trying to infect someone, but not succeeding, a slightly different charge. And you can be prosecuted for “recklessly” infecting someone, even if it wasn’t exactly deliberate. But it means showing a pattern of recklessness. And if it was reckless rather than deliberate, then the infector can wriggle out of it if the infectee knew about the infectors infection, even if the infector hadn’t told the infectee themselves. Still with me? Oh, and the infector doesn’t really have to know about their own infection, as long as there is some indication that they ought reasonably to have known, that they were exhibiting “willful blindness” to their infection. (What those black spots all over my body? Herpes zoster? Never!) And you can’t be done for trying but not succeeding to “recklessly infect”, because then it would be deliberate.

So that’s all clear, M’Lud.

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