A 27-year-old Malaysian man, whose identity has been withheld due to a gag order, has been sentenced to three months and two weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.
According to a report by The Straits Times, the man lied to the authorities about his sexual activities and donated blood that was later found to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is no cure for HIV, but it is treatable with medication.
If left untreated, someone infected with HIV can have a weakened immune system, leading to a condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
According to court documents, the man had sexual intercourse with a former girlfriend in February 2020, but no details about their HIV status at the time were disclosed.
The man later decided to donate blood in October 2020 and was required to complete a donor health assessment questionnaire.
He was asked if he had sex with more than one partner in the last 12 months and if he had ever had sex with another man, to which he answered “no” to both questions.
A medical screener from the Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) blood services group interviewed him after he completed the questionnaire and warned him that he could be prosecuted if any of the answers he had given were false or misleading.
Despite being given this information, the offender did not amend his answers and donated blood. He also did not call the 24-hour hotline after making the donation.
His blood was later tested and found to be infected with HIV. During a subsequent interview with a doctor from HSA’s blood services group, the offender admitted that he had had sex with another man.
A MOH public health officer interviewed him three days later, and he told her about his sexual activities. MOH’s enforcement branch was alerted on Nov 11, 2020, and he was charged in court in 2021.
Lawyers Ashwin Ganapathy and Victoria Tay of IRB Law represented the man on a pro-bono basis.
Tay told the court that their client, who used to work in the food and beverage industry in Singapore, is now unemployed and had been living off his savings for the last two years.
He had also received a small allowance through the help of social workers at non-governmental organisation Transient Workers Count Too. The lawyer did not disclose the amount.
The man could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $20,000 for committing the offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.
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