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Court Rules New Zealand Man Did Not Have to Disclose HIV Status to Partner Because He Used a Condom

October 6, 2005

A New Zealand court on Wednesday ruled that Justin Dalley was not required to tell his sexual partner he was HIV-positive because he used a condom during intercourse, the New Zealand Press Association reports. New Zealand law requires that people disclose their HIV status if it could endanger their sexual partners. Dalley, who had sex with a woman he met over the Internet in April 2004, did not disclose his HIV-positive status and was charged with two counts of criminal nuisance. It is the first time someone living with HIV had been charged with the crime after using a condom. Judge Susan Thomas said Dalley, who was acquitted, had taken "reasonable precautions" to avoid transmitting the virus because he used a condom during sexual intercourse and did not ejaculate during unprotected oral sex (Levy, New Zealand Press Association, 10/5). "The evidence of health experts in the area is that the use of a condom for vaginal intercourse is sufficient for the prevention of the transmission of HIV and that this can be met without the requirement for discourse," Thomas said (BBC News, 10/5). Thomas said that although people might have had a moral duty to inform their sexual partner of their HIV status, it is not required by law (AFP/News24.com, 10/5). Donald Stevens, Dalley's lawyer, said the ruling set an important legal precedent in New Zealand and abroad, adding that a law requiring people to disclose their HIV status to potential sexual partners might discourage people from getting tested for the virus (New Zealand Press Association, 10/5). "Relying on HIV-positive people to tell you, and assuming that unprotected intercourse is safe if HIV is not mentioned, is a much riskier strategy, especially as approximately one-third of people with HIV in New Zealand don't know they have it," Rachael Le Mesurier, executive director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, said (AFP/News24.com, 10/5).

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