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Monday, 15 September 2008

Australia: HIV-positive sex worker gets 2 1/2 months jail for being an HIV-positive sex worker

The HIV-positive male sex worker previously named and shamed by the Canberra Public Health Department has been sentenced to two months and two weeks in prison for being an HIV-positive sex worker, acccording to a report from ABC News online.

Interestingly, Canberra's daily newspaper, The Canberra Times, appears to be on the side of the sex worker in its coverage of the case.


HIV sex worker jailed
ABC News online
15th September 2008

A Canberra man who worked as a prostitute while infected with HIV and hepatitis C has been sentenced to less than three months in jail.

Hector Scott, 42, pleaded guilty to operating a commercial sexual service from his Kingston flat last year while knowingly being infected with HIV.

As a public health measure, the ACT health department contacted nearly 500 people known to Scott.

Forty-three of them admitted to having a sexual encounter with him and were urged to be tested for HIV.

Magistrate John Burns said it was impossible to know whether Scott had unprotected sex with any of his clients.

But he said Scott's breach of the prostitution act was very serious because he chose to put others at risk for his own commercial benefit.

Magistrate Burns sentenced him to two months and 14 days in jail and a two year good behaviour order.



Outrage over HIV-positive prostitute's sentence
The Canberra Times
15/09/2008

A jail term handed down to an HIV-positive prostitute in Canberra sends a "disgraceful" message that having sex with an infected person is unsafe, Australia's peak sex workers association says.

The Scarlet Alliance has hit out after a judge's decision today to sentence a male sex worker to two-and-a-half months in prison for providing a commercial sexual service while knowing he was infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Hector Scott, 41, from Kingston, was charged under section 25 of the ACT's Prostitution Control Act which makes the behaviour illegal.

Scarlet Alliance chief executive Janelle Fawkes said the organisation was "appalled" by the decision, saying she was extremely concerned at the possible repercussions after this kind of message.

"Last week, the ACT attorney-general, Simon Corbell, came out and stated that Section 25 should be reviewed and considering current risk in transmission that, in fact, an HIV positive person being a sex worker does not hold a higher risk for the community," Ms Fawkes said.

"But this week, we have a judge in the ACT making an example of a person who was only being a sex worker whilst HIV-positive.

"That sends a clear and cutting message that having sex with an HIV-positive person is unsafe and that is simply not true."

The same activity in NSW and several other states would not be deemed illegal, Ms Fawkes said.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, but Scott was sentenced to two months and 14 days.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex worker, for which he received a two-year good behaviour bond.



2 comments:

Paul said...

This case is generating a lot of discussion over here, as you would imagine.

Importantly, Hector Scott has not been shown to have infected anyone with HIV, nor has the prosecution been able to demonstrate that he ever had unprotected sex with any of his clients, despite an extensive – and very public – police investigation.

Nor did the ACT Health Department follow the nationally agreed guidelines for management of people who may be putting others at risk. These guidelines mandate counselling and education as the first steps in the management of these cases, followed by formal public health orders – criminal prosecution is only supposed to be used as a last resort.

What actually happened was that the ACT health authorities referred the matter to the police first, then (later the same day) placed Scott under a public health order, pretty much as a last resort. Scott was not even informed that he was under a public health order until he was in Court charged with criminal offenses.

Paul said...

This case is generating a lot of discussion over here, as you would imagine.

Importantly, Hector Scott has not been shown to have infected anyone with HIV, nor has the prosecution been able to demonstrate that he ever had unprotected sex with any of his clients, despite an extensive – and very public – police investigation.

Nor did the ACT Health Department follow the nationally agreed guidelines for management of people who may be putting others at risk. These guidelines mandate counselling and education as the first steps in the management of these cases, followed by formal public health orders – criminal prosecution is only supposed to be used as a last resort.

What actually happened was that the ACT health authorities referred the matter to the police first, then (later the same day) placed Scott under a public health order, pretty much as a last resort. Scott was not even informed that he was under a public health order until he was in Court charged with criminal offenses.

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