U.K. Crown Prosecution Service Issues Guidelines To Clarify Law on Intentional, Reckless Transmission of HIV
The United Kingdom's Crown Prosecution Service on Friday issued guidelines to clarify a law on intentionally or recklessly transmitting HIV, London's Daily Mail reports. According to the guidelines, cases of intentional or reckless HIV transmission will only be brought against people who transmit the virus to a series of sexual partners or against people who have transmitted the virus to a partner during a period of regular high-risk sex.
The rules state that it will be necessary to prove a "sustained course of conduct" in order to find a person guilty of intentionally spreading HIV. They add that it will be unlikely that "the prosecution will be able to demonstrate the required degree of recklessness in factual circumstances other than a sustained course of conduct during which the defendant ignores current scientific advice regarding the need for and the use of safeguards" (Doughty, Daily Mail, 3/15). The rules also state that people associated with such cases should be treated sensitively and told about "special measures," which can be used in court to make the experience less traumatic, Metro.co.uk reports. "We appreciate too that those who are defendants in these cases may be seen as victims themselves, as they also have the infection that they are alleged to have transmitted to another person," the rules state.
Ken MacDonald, director of CPS' public prosecutions, said, "Although these types of cases are rare, we are publishing this statement because we recognize the importance of consistent decision-making," adding, "We hope that it provides clarity" (Metro.co.uk, 3/14). According to the Mail, 11 cases of intentional HIV transmission have been prosecuted in England, 10 of which resulted in convictions. David Green of the London-based think tank Civitas warned that the new rules could encourage risky behavior among HIV-positive people. An HIV-positive person "who has sex in those circumstances is subjecting the other person to a potentially deadly illness and to suffering over a long period of time," Green said, adding, "These rules are too lenient, and they will lead people to think they will not be prosecuted" (Daily Mail, 3/15).
The new rules are available online.