The Czech Republic’s public health department has launched criminal investigations against 30 gay men, who are HIV positive, for allegedly having unprotected sex.
The country’s laws state it is a crime to intentionally expose someone else to HIV.
This is true in many other countries as well, but there is a difference. There are no complainants in the case and there is no evidence anyone has contracted HIV from the 30 men under investigation.
The only evidence is the men have contracted other sexually transmitted infections since finding out their HIV status.
A gay man under investigation in Prague told GSN, under condition of anonymity, that he had contracted gonorrhea after sex with another man who was also HIV positive.
‘I don’t understand why this is happening to me,’ he said.
Jakub Tomšej, a lawyer with the Czech AIDS Help Society, has said there are ‘no victims’ here.
‘We believe the only consequence [of this kind of investigation] is that HIV-positive people who get another STI will simply avoid doctors,’ he told Buzzfeed News.
Nine of the men involved have said they had contracted the other infections through sex with another person who was also diagnosed as HIV positive or despite wearing condoms. You can wear a condom and still get a STI, like syphilis.
In a statement responding to the Czech AIDS Help Society’s criticism, the public health department head Zdeňka Jágrová denied the investigation was an ‘attack on the gay community’.
She claimed ‘no HIV positive woman in Prague was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease’ and that all the men involved just happened to be gay.
‘A public health authority is obliged to protect the public health of the population and must act in the same manner as in case of other infectious diseases,’ she said.
Matthew Hodson, of UK-based gay men’s health charity GMFA, said in an op-ed for Gay Star News: ‘This particularly heavy-handed application of the law can only serve to discourage people with HIV from attending sexual health services in the Czech Republic, which may result in STIs going undiagnosed and untreated, and thereby facilitate their spread.
‘The story illustrates how blunt and ineffective criminalisation is as a method of preventing new HIV infections.’