The Perth sex worker who last week stood trial over allegedly infecting a client with HIV has been found guilty and will serve her term in a male prison.
CJ Palmer was found guilty of grievous bodily harm over the male client’s HIV, which was diagnosed in 2015, ABC News has reported.
The prosecution argued that Palmer was criminally negligent because she endangered the man’s health by engaging in condomless penetrative sex.
Palmer said she had not been told about her HIV diagnosis and that her client could have contracted the virus from someone else.
The jury deliberated for four hours before returning the guilty verdict.
Palmer cried as the verdict was read.
She will be held in a male prison, having already spent nine months alone in a high-security cell in 2016 after her extradition from New South Wales to Western Australia.
She had been released on bail with conditions including no condomless sex.
Judge Christopher Stevenson said he accepted being in a male prison would be “more onerous” for Palmer.
Prosecutor Benjamin Stanwix argued that Palmer should serve additional time because of the seriousness of the case.
“It did involve a breathtaking disregard for the life and health of another human being over an extended time,” he said.
“The harm and the behaviour that was involved in this offence is of a very serious nature.”
Palmer will be sentenced on February 16.
Members of the trans, sex worker and HIV-positive communities have suggested the verdict was influenced by stigma.
Advocacy group Sex Work Education Advocacy and Rights (SWEAR) WA tweeted their support for Palmer.
“We stand with CJ,” they wrote.
“Please allow our community the space to process this ‘justice’. #decriminalisesexwork”
David Kernohan, CEO of WA AIDS Council, said HIV must be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue, and condemned the court’s decision to send Palmer again to a male prison.
“Criminalisation of HIV can lead to fear, people being less likely to seek information and support, and negative and untrue stereotypes being reinforced,” he said.
“Placing a person in a situation where they are at risk of abuse, isolation, fear, intimidation, bullying and harassment is not retributive justice, it is placing a person at risk.”