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HIV Infection Case to be Appealed

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HIV Infection Case to be Appealed

Police bike

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

He’s a guy who is always happy and comes across well with everyone. I don’t believe he knew he had the disease,” says a friend and former housemate of the Nigerian asylum seeker who was remanded in custody yesterday under suspicion of having infected young women with HIV.

Capital region police are investigating the case with the Directorate of Health and Stundin spoke to one of his friends, who is in his twenties, like the accused: “We ate together and smoked cigarettes together, chatted about this and that, and he is always jolly and happy. We, his friends, are speechless, I am so surprised, I think he can’t have known he had HIV,” the friend said.

Guðmundina Ragnarsdóttir, the accused’s lawyer, plans to challenge his case straight to the Supreme Court, following his being remand in custody for four weeks from yesterday.

The story, first reported yesterday, has proven controversial for several reasons. Firstly, the story said that a man had been arrested for allegedly passing on HIV to some young women, but did not go any further in explaining what his alleged crime was. Having and transmitting HIV is not itself a crime, and the story did not state whether or not the man was suspected of infecting the women on purpose.

The story also stated right from the beginning not only that a man had been arrested, but also that he was a Nigerian asylum seeker—some news outlets even featuring that fact in the headline. Many wonder whether nationality or residence status are specifically relevant to the case.

Voices from within the HIV and immigrant communities are warning against a potentially divisive witch hunt.

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