German pop singer Nadja Benaissa was arrested Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany, for allegedly having unprotected sex with three men without telling them she is HIV positive. One of the men has tested positive for the virus. In Germany, the law says that anyone convicted of knowingly infecting a person with HIV faces a prison sentence of between six months and 10 years for “grievous bodily harm.” If the victim dies, the sentence can be even greater — up to life imprisonment for manslaughter.
Some AIDS organizations in Germany are up in arms over Benaissa’s arrest, saying that it’s just a witch-hunt that’s made for the tabloids; however, the case does bring attention to how important it is to talk about STDs with sex partners. One of the men involved said he knew nothing of her illness when they slept together back in 2004. We can’t read German, so we can’t figure out whether Benaissa is a Magic Johnson-type figure over there, or whether she kept her infection under wraps from the general public. Even if it was publicly known that she is HIV positive, she shouldn’t have assumed that the men knew.
Right now, Benaissa’s lawyers are saying there is no evidence that she acted in a criminal way, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out if and when it goes to court. Do you think having widespread legal repercussions in the U.S. for giving someone an STD would help stop their spread? [Guardian, BBC, Reuters]