HIV blood donor lied about sexual history

A man who lied about not having had sex with another male in a blood donor health assessment questionnaire was jailed for three months and fined $10,000 yesterday.

The 27-year-old Malaysian casino worker pleaded guilty last Wednesday to making the false declaration in connection with the donation of blood to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) at the Bloodbank @HSA on Nov 7 last year.

He cannot be named because of a gag order.

On Dec 23 last year, the enforcement branch of the Ministry of Health received a complaint that the blood donated by the defendant had been tested and confirmed to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes Aids.

Investigations showed that when the defendant was in secondary school between 2002 and 2004, he had a sexual relationship with a male acquaintance.

After coming to Singapore to work in 2008, he met a man called Leon in 2009 and carried on a sexual relationship with him for about two to three weeks.

On Nov 7 last year, he went to the HSA's premises in Outram Road with his sister and a colleague to donate blood. He declared falsely in the questionnaire that he had not engaged in sexual activity with another male.

Pleading for leniency, defence lawyer C.S. Lee said his client had no ulterior motive when he answered that question, which he did not pay much attention to as five years had lapsed since his last act of sexual intercourse with another male.

"He is truly regretful and remorseful," the lawyer said. He added that his client went into depression on learning that he had contracted HIV.

Health Ministry prosecutor Andre Moses Tan said this was a serious offence. He added that if people acted irresponsibly like the defendant, Singapore's national blood bank resources would be at risk.

Mr Tan also said that there is a 24-hour callback hotline for a donor to tell the HSA not to use the blood donated. The HSA will dispose of the blood sample with no questions asked.

District Judge Ng Peng Hong said that while he sympathised with the defendant, public interest must override a person's personal circumstances.

The maximum punishment is two years' jail and a $20,000 fine.

Elena Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'HIV blood donor lied about sexual history'. Print Edition | Subscribe