A 35-year-old Malaysian man, who is HIV-positive, was sentenced to 42 months in jail after being found guilty of two charges under the Infectious Diseases Act and three drug offenses by a Singapore court this week.
The freelance hairstylist and fashion designer, who lives in Singapore, suspected that he could be infected with HIV in 2008 but refused to get himself tested as he feared that he would lose his permanent residency status if his results came out to be positive.
However, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that an individual came forward and said that at least six men had tested HIV-positive after having sex with the Malaysian man, according to Channel News Asia.
The guilty man cannot be named due to a court gag order.
Previously in 2010, the man was contacted by the National Public Health Unit (NPHU) of the ministry and was told that one of his sex partners tested positive for HIV. He was then advised to get tested as he could be at risk of contracting the virus himself.
However, instead of getting tested, he lied about it and said that he goes for regular tests and that his most recent results came out negative.
Years went by and the man’s name kept reappearing on the NPHU radar as three more individuals, who named him a sexual partner of theirs over a five-year period, tested HIV-positive.
Even then, the man continued to avoid tests knowing that he had a high-risk status and continued engaging in casual sex with others without telling them about his status.
In July 2013, an individual came forward and told officials that he met the suspect over social media and dating app Grindr. The two had sex without any disclosure of the suspect’s high-risk status, and after two more sexual encounters, the ‘victim’ contracted a fever. He went to receive medical treatment, after which he was informed that he tested positive for HIV.
The victim claimed that he had not had sex with anyone between his last STI test in 2011 and his encounters with the HIV-positive man in 2013.
But yet again, the suspect lied and said that he had tested negative after the NPHU contacted him. He continued having sex with other individuals and infected another man in February 2014 who was sure that he had contracted the virus from the suspect.
The suspect then began to make excuses that he was busy when the NPHU tried to contact him and later refused to pick up any calls.
Finally, the MOH ordered that he take a HIV test and results confirmed what his six partners had already concluded: The man was tested HIV-positive.
He was arrested only in 2015 for smoking methamphetamine but was let out on bail, and during this time, he continued committing drug offences. He was arrested again this year (2019) with the prosecutor highlighting the many victims the man had infected.
“The accused had denied his sexual partners their right to make an informed decision as to whether to proceed with sexual activity with him,” prosecutors told the court.
“In fact, the accused did not even take the simple step of using protection.”
In the end, the man’s defence asked for leniency, justifying that HIV is still an incurable disease and that “the accused has to live with the impact of this disease all his life.”
On Thursday (5th September), the man was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
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