Rapist may have got HIV from victim

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A sex attacker may have contracted HIV after he raped a woman who was carrying the virus.

A sex attacker may have contracted HIV after he raped a woman who was carrying the virus.

The woman, 27, was attacked last Thursday evening in a park in Gloucester. Police appealed to the man to give himself up after the woman confirmed she had the virus, which can lead to Aids.

Police are also concerned that if the rapist has become infected and attacks another woman then he could pass the disease on. However, it would take three months to determine whether he is infected as it takes 12 weeks for the virus to show up in a blood test.

The risk of being infected by the HIV virus following one episode of unprotected vaginal intercourse with an infected person is difficult to predict, with estimates ranging from 0.1 per cent to 20 per cent. But a forced act of intercourse would greatly increase the chances of infection.

The uncertainty clouds the issue of whether someone who is exposed to the risk of HIV infection should be given anti- HIV drugs, in the hope of preventing an infection developing.

A spokesman for the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "Whether HIV gets transmitted during intercourse is down to a number of complex factors. If one person is already carrying another sexual disease then it increases the chances but it is down to the luck of the draw.

"HIV infection rates are going up in the United Kingdom but just because you have unprotected sex with a person who is HIV positive doesn't mean you will also become infected," he said.

After the incident, the woman went to her home in Gloucester and told a family member, who contacted police.

There were around 30,000 HIV carriers in Britain in 1998, according to the Public Health Laboratory Service, and the number of newly infected cases was the highest for 10 years, with another 13,000 people dying of Aids. Of those infected, 11,000 occurred through heterosexual sex.

However, up to two-thirds of these were acquired by people who had lived or worked in sub-Saharan Africa. Some 16,000 infections were caught through homosexual sex, 2,000 through injecting drug use and about 600 through medical use of infected blood products.

Cases of men becoming HIV positive after committing a rape are rare in the UK.