Woman is jailed for infecting lover with HIV

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The Independent Online

A hair salon receptionist was jailed yesterday after she admitted infecting a boyfriend with HIV.

Sarah Jane Porter, 43, was sentenced to 32 months for passing on the virus by having unprotected sex with a lover. Her 31-year-old former boyfriend, a dance music promoter and DJ, was so upset when he received the diagnosis that he attempted suicide.

Porter, from Kennington, south London, who has a six-year-old child, knew she was HIV-positive when she started a two-year relationship with the man in 2001.

The boyfriend, whose name has not been made public, said he considered Porter to be "pure evil" after she led him to believe he had infected her with the virus.

Inner London Crown Court heard that the receptionist for Vidal Sassoon, had been found by a psychologist to be in denial about her illness and was fearful of the social stigma attached to it.

Judge Quentin Campbell, sentencing Porter, said: "Your victim was devastated that a person whom he loved and respected - you - had lied to him time and time again by your words and actions. Your cruelty and dishonesty made him feel worthless."

The court heard that concerns about Porter's conduct were raised by another boyfriend, a 36-year-old man, who told police in May 2005 that she had encouraged him to have unprotected sex with her. He was told later that she was HIV-positive.

When Porter refused to co-operate in identifying other potential victims, police searched her home and found documents which led them to the DJ.

Tests proved she was the source of the infection.

Detective Sergeant Brian McClusky, a Metropolitan Police community safety officer, who led the year-long investigation, said: "It is hard to comprehend how or why Porter set about this chain of events. She gave us no help to identify potential victims throughout the investigation."

Police found a total of four of Porters' former lovers, all of whom were Afro-Caribbean and linked to the dance music industry.

Only the 31-year-old was found to have been infected, although detectives spoke of the "heartbreak and stress" suffered by the other men and their current partners while they underwent tests.

Porter, who pleaded guilty to recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, will serve half her sentence in prison and the remainder on licence.

She is believed to be the second woman in Britain to have been convicted of passing on the virus. A 20-year-old Welsh woman, who had been infected since she was 15, was jailed for two years in 2005 for infecting her boyfriend.

Police are appealing for anyone else who had a relationship with Porter to come forward.

Campaigners said they were concerned that the way the case was investigated appeared to criminalise anyone with HIV.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: "The prospect of the police investigating the sexual history of people living with HIV in this speculative way is profoundly stigmatising, and appears to treat everyone with HIV as a potential criminal.

"We seem to be back in the bad old days at the beginning of the epidemic when HIV had to be someone's fault."