The 10-and-a-half-year jail term given to a Brisbane man who knowingly infected his male lover with HIV is a reminder to all gay men to remain aware of the law, AIDS groups say.
Mark Reid was sentenced on Friday after Brisbane District Court convicted him a day earlier of committing a malicious act with intent.
The conviction was the first of its kind in Queensland and came a week after the NSW District Court sentenced Sydney man Stanislas Kanengele-Yondjo to a total of 12 years in prison, eligible for parole after nine years, for knowingly infecting two women with HIV.
The Brisbane court had heard Reid, 37, picked up his former lover at one of the city’s gay bars in early 2003. The pair began a sexual relationship that lasted about two months.
The lover -“ whose name was suppressed -“ said Reid repeatedly assured him he was HIV-negative, and the pair regularly had unprotected sex, The Courier-Mail reported.
Reid, who has been HIV-positive since 1987, denied he misled the other man, blaming the unprotected sex on the pair’s excessive drinking.
Judge David Robin said he was satisfied Reid had concealed his HIV status from the other man, but rejected the prosecution’s argument the offence was akin to attempted murder.
Reid told the court he was remorseful for his behaviour, saying he continued to worry about his former lover’s health.
But Sydney AIDS groups called the Brisbane man’s actions indefensible, saying they were not reflective of most gay men’s approach to sex.
It’s really important to be clear that we’re talking about cases where someone has been wilfully misleading or lying, ACON chief executive Stevie Clayton told Sydney Star Observer.
It’s not about the way the majority of HIV-positive gay men actually go about their lives.
The Brisbane case also highlighted disclosure laws, which in NSW require HIV-positive people to tell any sexual partner they have the virus, even if they use a condom.
It just brings home the fact that it’s incredibly important to have an understanding of what the law actually says, People Living With HIV/AIDS (NSW) executive officer Geoff Honnor said.