HIV, sex, ACC and the law – big questions are raised by Appeal Court and a coroner

There’s lots of fuss today about the implications of a Court of Appeal ruling that a woman should receive ACC compensation for the mental stress she suffered when she discovered a man with whom she had unprotected sex had HIV.

Alf has been brought up to speed by a Radio NZ report.

The court ruled the woman could not have given her full consent to sex because she was not told about the man’s HIV status.

Accordingly she was sexually violated and is now entitled to compensation.

The ruling opens up the possibility of HIV-infected people facing rape charges if they don’t reveal their status to partners.

Damned right, too.

Alf finds it monstrous that some randy HIV-infected person can indulge in rumpy-pumpy – thereby aiding and abetting in the spread of the disease – without telling the other party about his or her condition.

Armed with this knowledge, it seems unlikely the uninfected party would allow the attempt at rumpy-pumpy to get anywhere near the belt-undoing stage, at least, not without the male partner being equipped with a reliable brand of condom.

In other words, it is unjust and downright wrong if the uninfected party is oblivious to the risk.

But hey.

There’s always some tosser – or bunch of tossers – who see things differently and who put the interests of their members ahead of the rights of others.

Good grief. Did Alf just bring “members” into the argument?

Indeed he did. He is surprised his language has become so coy. He more typically refers to dicks.

In this case –

The Aids Foundation says those infected with HIV risk being further stigmatised by society if they face harsh punishments in the legal system.

This is a bit like arguing a burglar should not be stigmatised by being charged with a more serious offence if he or she happens to kill one or more of the householders during the break-in.

The Rape Prevention Education agency more sensibly says the ruling sends a strong message to anyone considering not telling their sexual partner about their health status.

But Alf was much more fascinated by another news item.

It reported on an inquest into the death of a man accused of deliberately infecting people with HIV.

The inquest heard this bloke was likely to have faced more serious charges.

But Glenn Mills, 40, short-circuited proceedings while in custody at Mt Eden prison in 2009.

Mr Mills was found dead in his cell the morning before he was due to appear in court to face 28 charges relating to 14 men and women, seven of whom have been diagnosed with HIV.

Police told the coroner’s court on Monday they were following up allegations that Mr Mills had drugged some victims to incapacitate them.

Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew King said more serious charges, including sexual violation, would have been laid had Mr Mills not died.

King said

… Mr Mills was extremely sexually promiscuous and was a very high profile public health risk.

King also told the inquest this Mills feller had been considered a suicide risk when arrested.

That’s a bit rich, when applied to a bloke who seems to have gone to extraordinary lengths to force himself on other people and expose them to the real risk of catching his disease.

No matter.

Mt Eden Prison’s health centre manager said Mills was tested numerous times in the six months he was awaiting trial and was deemed not at risk of self-harm.

But here’s what bugs Alf.

The coroner Katherine Grieg has reserved her findings in the inquest.

She says she intends to make recommendations that may prevent similar deaths in prison in the future.

It seems her concern is to prevent the likes of Mills from topping themselves.

Alf was tempted to say – to the contrary – Mills and his ilk might usefully be given a handy length of rope before being banged up in a cell with a sturdy beam and a chair.

Mrs Grumble dissuaded him. She said she admires his robust stance on law-and-order issues but he should not become rabid.

He has taken her advice and will temper his strong views on the matter with just a touch of mercy by suppressing his opinion on how such criminals should be treated.

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