08 Dec 2005 12:00:05 GMT
SINGAPORE, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A Singapore court sentenced five HIV-positive blood donors to prison for lying about their sexual history, a court official said on Thursday.)
The men, aged between 21 and 37, admitted to making false declarations when they donated blood in 2004, an offence under Singapore law, the court official said. One man had participated in an orgy and then lied about how many sex partners he had had, while four men did not admit when they gave blood that they had had homosexual partners, according to court documents.
"Four were sentenced to eight months in prison while one was jailed for ten months" on Wednesday, said Joyce Loh, a spokeswoman for the district court.
All blood donations in Singapore are tested for HIV to prevent infections in recipient patients. The donations made by the five men were destroyed.
Under the state's law, a blood donor who gives false or misleading information can face a maximum jail term of two years and a fine of S$20,000 ($11,830).
Although the Southeast Asian city-state has one of Asia's lowest levels of HIV infection, an increase in the number of cases in the last year -- particularly among gays and heterosexual men who have had casual sex -- has prompted tougher regulations.
In July, the Health Ministry introduced HIV testing as part of the antenatal screening routine for pregnant women, in a bid to eliminate HIV infection of babies.
The ministry also said patient confidentiality can be breached in order to inform the spouses of HIV-positive patients about their partner's illness.
Controversial legislative measures, such as compulsory HIV testing for couples about to marry and criminalising the act of spreading the HIV virus with or without intent, have also been considered but have not been implemented.
Singapore has recorded a total of 2,584 HIV infections to date, of whom 954 have died, 631 have full-blown AIDS and 999 show no symptoms.
From January to October this year, 198 people were diagnosed with HIV; fewer than 10 percent were women, statistics from the health ministry's website showed. ($1=1.691 Singapore Dollar