An HIV positive Ethiopian migrant charged with the rape of two underage girls in Östergötland took steps to “deliberately expose” victims “to the risk of contracting a chronic and life-threatening disease”.Nahom Mengistu Yitayu, who says he is 16, will be prosecuted for two counts of child rape and two counts of attempted aggravated assault, after having sex with a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old in Spring last year, reports Norrköpings Tidningar.
Though fully aware he had HIV, in the period during which the rapes were committed the Ethiopian neglected to take the antiretroviral drugs he was prescribed. As a result, medical records show a hugely elevated amount of virus in Yitayu’s blood at the time, greatly enhancing the risk of infecting his victims.
The African knew the consequences of not taking his medication, and that he was not allowed to have unprotected sex, according to official documents. Yitayu was also aware that the law requires people who are HIV positive to inform their partners, but he failed to do so.
A third victim of the Ethiopian told police he was “indifferent about the fact his sexual partners were underage, and willing to force unprotected sexual acts on his partners against their will”.
The young man, who claims he was born on New Year’s Eve in 2000, will not be charged with rape in the case of the third girl.
“It happened before he was 15 years old and therefore he was not criminally responsible,” said prosecutor Britt-Louise Viklund. “But I think his behaviour towards the girl proves that he was prepared to ignore the plaintiff’s age, and neglect to say he has HIV.”
“No one has been infected, fortunately,” she added.
In 2014, Sweden’s Red-Green coalition government committed to scrapping the legal requirement for persons with HIV to inform partners of their status, after heavy lobbying from LGBT groups who say the law unfairly attaches stigma to the disease.
The then Vice Chairman of the Social Committee Veronica Palm said society has a moral duty to counter prejudice about HIV.
“It’s still a serious disease, but the drugs are so effective now that people are still able to live a good life with HIV,” she said.
“Today there’s a risk that the legal requirement to inform a partner of your status could be counterproductive, as it maintains the stigma around HIV positive people who are in need of help.”