Woman sentenced for spreading HIV

A woman in her 30s was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for infecting a man with HIV and could face expulsion from Sweden after the completion of her prison time.

The woman had a relationship with a man from the county of Västerbotten in the north of Sweden, where the two engaged in regular sex, reported the TT news agency Friday.

However, the woman failed to mention she was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

The woman was convicted of aggravated assault last week and was ordered to pay damages of 380,000 kronor (about $60,000) to the now infected man.

After completion of her prison time, she could be expelled from Sweden for up to ten years.

According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an increasing number of countries across the globe are criminalizing the malicious spreading of HIV.

The organization reports that about 58 countries have laws in place to prosecute people for transmitting the deadly virus.

An additional 33 countries are considering similar legislation.

Critics claim forced HIV-testing may push the epidemic underground, as people hide their condition thus enabling the virus to spread unnoticed.

Jan Albert, a Professor of Infectious Diseases who has worked at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet – SMI) and currently works as an HIV researcher at the Karolinska Institute, agrees that such laws create big issues.

“As researchers our main purpose is to work for disease control, not to contribute to criminal investigations…the legal situation makes our work harder,” Albert said in an IPPF analysis of those affected by the criminalisation of HIV.

He said that the practise of applying criminal law to HIV transmission cases makes it difficult for health authorities to gather information about the spread of HIV in Sweden

Albert, whose professional opinion is often sought in the courts, claims that accused persons are rarely ‘raw criminals,’ rather they are people who have been careless or even reckless.

According to him, very few have had the true malicious intent to transmit HIV.

“There are many reasons for neglecting to inform sexual partners about one’s HIV status, including denial,” Albert said in the report.

Experts estimate that more than 33 million people worldwide are thought to have HIV, with nearly 3 million people becoming newly infected every year.

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