Transgender woman on trial for transmitting HIV says she was not told of diagnosis

The trial of a transgender woman who is charged with causing grievous bodily harm by failing to tell a sex partner she had HIV has begun in the District Court.

CJ Palmer, who was a sex worker working under the name Sienna Fox, is alleged to have ignored the news that she had contracted HIV and subsequently not disclosed the information to a sex partner who later discovered that he too had the virus.

Palmer says she did not know she had the virus and may not be the person who passed it on to the man, who can not be named.

Prosecutors however allege that a nurse from the WA Substance Users Association had told Palmer of her HIV status, and her obligations to disclose this information and she had ignored their advice.

According to Perth Now, Prosecutor Ben Stanwix  said Nurse Joanne Morgan says she tested Palmer in August 2014 and informed her of the results. According to the nurse’s notes Ms Palmer asked questions about whether or not she was going to die, if she would be required to take medication, and how she may have contracted the virus.

It is alleged that Ms Palmer ignored follow up appointments and text messages from the service provider. Two months later she met the man who later also discovered he had HIV.

The man and Palmer had a sexual relationship until August 2015. The man says during this time Palmer told him she was getting tested regularly had had no sexually transmitted infections.

The prosecution has alleged that Palmer and the man both have a relatively rare sub-type of the virus.

“The accused was in charge of something dangerous, specifically bodily fluids that were infected with HIV,” Stanwix said.

“The accused’s failure to take reasonable care and precaution was, we say, negligence so grave as to justify criminal conviction.”

Defence Lawyer Simon Freitag told the jury that there were different versions of the conversation between his client and the nurse from the WA Substance Users Association, and Palmer could not be convicted of the crime if she was unaware that she had the virus. Palmer has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

Freitag said it was also reasonable to question if the man concerned had only had sex with Palmer during the period of their relationship.

Both the defence and prosecution urged the jury to set aside any beliefs they had about sex workers, drug use and people who are transgender. The trial is continuing.

OIP Staff

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