A Sydney man has been given the maximum sentence for failing to reveal his HIV status, in turn, infecting his ex partner with the virus.
“The offender’s conduct was a gross betrayal of trust and a contemptible and callous disregard for the victim’s life,” said Judge Peter Zahra as he jailed Martin Peter Jaksic on Wednesday.
The 31 year-old pleaded guilty in the NSW District Coyr in March to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to his then-partner more than six years ago.
Jaksic was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2010 and Judge Peter Zahra said that he was told on a number of occasions about using condoms to avoid transmitting the disease to others and that, by Australian law, he must inform all new sexual partners of his HIV status.
Jaksic discussed taking legal action against the person he thought he contracted HIV from with his doctor. His doctor informed him that if the person was aware that they were HIV positive, they would have committed a crime and Jaksic could press charges against them.
Jaksic’s ex-partner said that they entered into what they considered to be “close and loving” monogamous relationship over 6 years ago but that Jaksic did not disclose his HIV status or suggest they use protection and they had unprotected sex.
“At all times (he) would have been aware of the grave risk of the victim suffering serious illness which had the potential to be life-threatening,” Judge Zahra said.
In his victim impact statement, the man had described his injuries as “internal wounds and emotional struggles” which will “never heal”.
He referred to his trust and commitment to Jaksic during their relationship but now saw him as someone who acted “dishonestly, callously and ruthlessly” towards him.
“The victim expresses despair that the transmission of HIV was completely preventable,” the judge said.
“The continuing effect of the harm caused to the victim is incalculable.”
In a letter to the court, Jaksic said he had been in denial after being diagnosed and acknowledged what he did to the victim was “cowardly and unthinkable”.
The judge sentenced Jaksic to a maximum prison sentence of four years and six months.
HIV Transmission Laws In Ireland
In Irealand earlier this year, a man was found guilty of causing serious harm to two former partners by infecting them with HIV, having been aware of his positive status.
For HIV Ireland, and many people living with HIV, this case raised a number of issues.
Commenting on the case, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director with HIV Ireland said:
“This is the first time an individual in Ireland has been convicted of causing harm by recklessly infecting someone with HIV.
“Whilst it will be for the Court to determine the appropriate sentence, it is crucial to emphasise that this is an isolated incident. The case is less about HIV transmission per se, and more about one person recklessly and knowingly putting another person at risk.
“We know that people living with HIV, who are compliant with their treatment and have an undetectable viral load, cannot pass the virus on to someone else. This suppression of the virus comes with treatment compliance.’’
Mr Mulligan further emphasised the importance of understanding that an undetectable HIV virus means an untransmittable HIV virus:
“Without such understanding, myths about HIV transmission will continue to feed into the stigma around HIV which impacts negatively on the lives of over 5000 people living with HIV in Ireland today.”
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