A Canadian woman who had sex with men she met in bars, without using a condom and without telling them she was HIV-positive, has been charged with sexual assault, police said on Friday.
Toronto police Detective Joe de Lottinville said three men had come forward by Friday, but the total could be far higher.
“This was a case where the person that’s been charged knew exactly what she was doing,” he said. “I don’t even want to guess how many men may be involved.”
According to de Lottinville, Robin St. Clair, of Hamilton, Ontario, west of Toronto, was diagnosed in 2003 with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
In 2004 public health officials issued her with an order that required her to disclose her HIV-positive status to potential sex partners.
He said St. Clair had been “quite sexually active” in the bar scene since then and had also sought out men on at least one Internet dating site.
On Friday police took the rare step of issuing a public alert complete with a picture of St. Clair to help locate anyone who has had sex with her, and de Lottinville said two men came forward within a few hours.
“We’re expecting more but it’s complicated,” he said. “People may be afraid or embarrassed to speak up.”
St. Clair’s case, while rare, is not the first instance in Canada of an HIV-positive woman being charged with assault.
In 2005, Jennifer Murphy was convicted of sexual assault for failing tell a soldier at an Ontario army base that she was infected prior to having unprotected sex with him.
Murphy is set to go to trial in St. John’s, Newfoundland next month on identical charges involving another man. She denies that she hid her HIV-positive status in that case.