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German Pop Star Found Guilty for HIV Transmission, but Gets No Jail Time

August 26, 2010

After a two-week trial, a German court has found Nadja Benaissa, a member of the pop group No Angels, guilty of causing bodily harm to an ex-boyfriend for having unprotected sex with him, not disclosing that she had HIV, and ultimately infecting him with the virus. While she could have been sentenced up to 10 years for this offense under German law, she instead received a two-year suspended sentence, mandatory counseling and 300 hours of community service with people who are living with HIV.

The Associated Press reported:

The man who claimed Benaissa infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004 and that he got tested after Benaissa's aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV-positive.

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See Also
BBC Tackles HIV, Disclosure and Criminalization as German Singer's Trial Begins
If Sex With HIV Is a Crime, So Is Swimming With Verrucas (From The Guardian)
More on HIV Transmission Cases
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Bobby (Cleveland, OH) Fri., Sep. 10, 2010 at 12:22 am EDT
Am I missing something? This woman conceals her HIV status from a partner, watches as he seroconverts, walks away with nothing more than a sullied reputation and we're taking HER side? Are you people for REAL? Yes, we can talk until we're blue in the face about how it is the responsibility of BOTH parties to protect themselves, but at the end of the day, she KNOWINGLY exposed him to a fatal disease because she was afraid of how it would make her look. She did this to a regular partner, not some stranger, and she did it repeatedly. This isn't some anti-poz horror story from a red state where someone wound up in prison for kissing, this is a cold-blooded sociopath who chose her reputation over another human being's life. Comparing this to the disclosure nightmares that people in the US and canada face is a slap in the face to everyone who has ever felt they needed to repeatedly warn tricks from Adam4Adam of their status. The greatest tragedy...besides the gentleman whose life is ruined by this callous pop sensation...is that THIS is now the face of the disclosure issue, a glaring reason for the public to believe that existing laws are necessary but underenforced.
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Comment by: Rosemary (Dar es Salaam,Tanzania) Thu., Sep. 9, 2010 at 3:29 am EDT
It is everyone's responsibilty to care for our health. if we dont who will do that for us? Ithink we all aware that there are HIV positive person in this world and we dont expect to recognize them without themselves decide to tell, it is better to know our patner's health status before having sex. AND BEING HIV POSITVE IS NOT A SHAME WE NEED TO BE OPEN!
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Comment by: Dave (NJ) Mon., Sep. 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm EDT
It is the responsibility of both parties to practice safer sex. Unless one is tested before any "new" sexual relationships, it is really inappropriate to assume that one is infact negative. People whom are positive should always practice safer sex, period!
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Comment by: colin (uk) Mon., Sep. 6, 2010 at 5:18 am EDT
@mike i think the older boyfriend is more likely the sexual predator in this instance if there was one at all! sexual predation isn't poz peeps having sex with negative peeps is it?
get your facts right before nurturing your ego!

most cases of hiv are passed on by people who do not yet know their positive status so therefore protecting oneself by using condoms everytime, even if the the subject is discussed between parties, is now and can only ever be the right way... to punish someone else for your own stupidity and recklessnes is naive to say the least.
also attitudes like yours can only lead to non-disclosure don't you think! no probably not...
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Comment by: ChillVisio (Marseille, France) Fri., Sep. 3, 2010 at 11:15 pm EDT
Wow ! The mr. "innocent victim" ex-boyfriend of Nadja (his name is not publicly stated by medias) did NOT used a condom in their three months long relationship. Who know how many other relations of the same king he also had in the pas (before and after his relation with Nadja). Sex is made by at least two persons which both share the responsibility (50/50). How the hell could you be so arrogant to go to court and tell hey, I was the victim, because I did not cared that HIV is sexually transmitted disease and did not used a condom while having sex with a positive woman. What a victim...

Well in fact I am not poz, but I am against any acts of discriminating poz people. This case ruined this girl's life and not only her, but also life of her family.

And I do not get it how some people could compare having HIV in your body with having a weapon in your hands. Well, both kills, but the gun means a sudden death and every bullet brings a real damage, while it is never sure that one will get HIV infected when having sex with poz partner.

And how about the other STDs ? It looks laws are tolerating transmission of other STDs which could also kill and some of them stay for life.
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Comment by: Garry B. (London, England) Fri., Sep. 3, 2010 at 7:23 am EDT
@Mike - it may be the law in Canada, some other countries and US states that you have to disclose your status before having sex, but in most European countries this is NOT the case.
Whilst I always disclose my status I do not believe it is reasonable to expect everyone to do so for every sexual contact.
I would love to live in a world where we are all able to communicate openly and clearly on this issue but there's a lot of work to be done on both sides before that happens.
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Comment by: Garry B. (London, England) Fri., Sep. 3, 2010 at 6:28 am EDT
Let's not foget she was 17 years old, had just had a child, was a recovering crack addict. He was 23, so older and one would hope more mature.
Whilst we all have a responsibility to protect those we have sex with, sex is a 2-way process with shared responsibility. Also, she'd been told by her doctor that transmission was highly unlikely and whilst that does not absolve her responsibility, it does mitigate it somewhat.
Knee-jerk responses which hand out disproportionately harsh sentences for exposure, let alone transmition of HIV do not help people to disclose. The rabid media (and public) response discourages testing and increases stigma by labelling HIV positive people as evil sexual predators.
We all make mistakes - I would never have prosecuted the person that infected me in 1990, even though he lied to me about it - he was a psychological mess and at that point it WAS a death sentence.
Anyone heard of tolerance, forgiveness and education?
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Comment by: Paul M (Worthing, England) Fri., Sep. 3, 2010 at 6:13 am EDT
Whilst I strongly believe that this woman had a moral responsibility to advise any partner, I also agree that in the current environment every person should go into a new relationship with the presumption that their intended partner could be HIV +. I was fortunate that I made the preumption when I lost my virginty. I asked my girlfriend to have an HIV test and she tested positive. Unfortunately we had already been having unprotected sex prior to this and I too tested positive :o(
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Comment by: J K (Boston, MA USA) Thu., Sep. 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm EDT
From an HIV positive persons perspective. If the words don't come up from either party about status or using a condom, really who is to blame? Not the HIV positive person. It is the negative persons responsibility to maintain there status, therefore asking about HIV status should be a regular question.
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Comment by: DAVID (FLORIDA) Thu., Sep. 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm EDT
THATS BULLTIHS IF YOU ARE HIV POZ YOU MUST TELL THE OTHER PERSON ABOUT YOUR STATUS,THE OTHER PERSON MUST TAKE RESPONSABILITY??? NO IT IS YOUR OBLIGATION TO TELL......
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Comment by: Little Prince (Monaco) Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm EDT
I'm glad I live in Europe where jails are reserved for criminals. She is no criminal.
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Comment by: Mike (Toronto) Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm EDT
I cannot believe my ears!!! When it comes to sex, if one partner is positive and knows it, it always the responsibility of the HIV positive person to disclose their HIV status. Not only is it morally right but it is also the law. This woman and anyone who does not disclose their status to a sex partner is not morally apprehensive but also a criminal.
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Comment by: Phil (Ghana) Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 11:37 am EDT
I personally think it is the responsibility of both people to take preventitive measures to reduce the risk of passing on the HIV virus.
Did Nadja Benaissa's partner know for sure he was HIV negative at the time he first met Nadja. It could have been possible for him to have been positive without knowing, and yet he still had unprotected sex. I feel he acted just as irresposibly as Nadja did. He is an adult no one forced him to have sex with Nadja, he had a choice, he also had a choice of practising safe sex.
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Comment by: Hilly (France) Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 2:29 am EDT
I'm glad that finally the responsibility of BOTH partners gets mentioned in an article.

Although Ms Benaissa has behaved irresponsibly, it would have also been up to her partner to protect himself.

He obviously has neither used condoms, nor talked to her about HIV prior to having sex with her.
Both of which he could and should have done, had he been acting responsibly.
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Comment by: Mike (Toronto) Thu., Aug. 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm EDT
Too bad she didn't reside in Canada. Here, we know the meaning of true justice. In Canada, judges actually hand out jail sentences to sexual predators like Nadja Benaissa.
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