A man in Western Australia has been charged over allegedly failing to inform two sexual partners that he was living with HIV.

Robert John Harms has been charged with two counts of aggravated grievous bodily harm over allegedly transmitting HIV to his partners, according to Out in Perth.

Harms, who has been in custody since being arrested in January, pleaded not guilty in court last week.

Police will claim that he had been aware of his HIV status for several years but did not take adequate steps to protect his sexual partners from the virus.

Harms is alleged to have transmitted HIV to one man in 2014 or 2015, and to another last year.

One of the men made a complaint to police following his own diagnosis; the other was identified through police enquiries.

The case follows last month’s sentencing of trans woman CJ Palmer for allegedly transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.

Palmer was sentenced to six years in a men’s prison, a decision that has been called “manifestly excessive” and “a very dark day for every single person living with HIV in this country” by advocacy groups.

Nic Holas of HIV group The Institute of Many said his “heart was broken” over Palmer’s sentence, which he called “an absolute miscarriage of justice”.

“The criminalisation of people living with HIV is a blunt, ineffective tool in the war to end HIV,” Holas said.

“It only serves to drive people who need to be tested and treated further into the dark and creates a cultural fear.

“In this particular instance, as with so many cases, an overwhelming majority of cases of HIV criminalisation, we have two people here who are victims and those people are victims of the ongoing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.”

Harms’ case continues in the Magistrate’s Court.

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