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Monday, 30 March 2009

New Zealand: African migrant charged with criminal HIV transmission

A 34 year-old HIV-positive New Zealand citizen originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo is under investigation following accusations that he did not disclose his HIV status before having unprotected sex with an Aukland woman, who is now HIV-positive.

According to the report from, police are now on a fishing expedition to see if there are any other complainants.

Detective Sergeant Peter Litherland of the Waitakere CIB says the case should serve as a warning to other HIV carriers "who are prepared to fully ignore their responsibilities to adopt safe sexual practices"....

The charges against him span the two years to April 2008, but police would not say whether he was in a relationship with the woman when the alleged offending occurred. Police also refused to say how the matter came to their attention.

The report adds that the woman is "understood to have a newborn baby; it is not known whether the virus has been transmitted to her child."

The man is now in custody "awaiting his next court appearance. He first appeared in Waitakere District Court earlier this month on charges of criminal nuisance and recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, and faces a maximum of eight years in prison. He has entered no plea."

The report also includes quite a lot detail to the history of HIV prosecutions in New Zealand.

Just seven men have been convicted in similar cases in New Zealand courts.

The first conviction came in 1994, when Kenyan musician Peter Mwai was sentenced to seven years' prison for having unprotected sex with five women, and infecting two. He was released in 1998, deported, and died in Uganda three months later.

A 2005 decision involving Justin William Dalley, 36, of Lower Hutt, who kept his HIV status secret from two women he slept with, set a significant legal precedent.

Dalley did not wear a condom with the first woman and for this he was sentenced to 300 hours of community work and six months' supervision; he was also ordered to pay the woman $1000 in costs.

But he did wear a condom with the second woman. The judge considered this to be taking "reasonable precautions" and acquitted him on those charges. This meant HIV-positive people could choose not to tell sexual partners about the virus, as long as they wore a condom.



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