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Italian Man Jailed For Infecting Over 30 Women With HIV

Judges in Rome sentenced Valentino Talluto to 24 years in prison after finding that he had infected numerous women with HIV. The court ruled that Talluto had knowingly deceived his victims about his own HIV status and convinced them to engage in unprotected sex.

Valentino Talluto  Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Valentino Talluto

Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The 33-year-old accountant was diagnosed in 2006 and since then, reportedly slept with at least 53 women without using a condom. Of these women, 32 have contracted the virus. Three men who slept with Talluto’s partners and one victim’s eight-month-old child were subsequently affected.

The accused chatted with women via dating and social media sites under the pseudonym “Hearty Style”. Many of these women testified against Talluto in court, explaining how he had “wined and dined them and claimed to have fallen in love with them” as a means of seduction. The youngest was 14 when her relationship with Talluto began.

The prosecution demanded a life sentence, citing the “epidemic” Talluto had caused, with one prosecutor, Elena Neri, insisting that his actions “were intended to sow death.”

HIV Medication  Credit: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

HIV Medication

Credit: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

In Italy, however, the law does not equate HIV transmission with murder (or similar convictions that would warrant life in prison), but with “aggravated bodily harm and culpable homicide”. According to Global Criminalisation Scan (GCS), an organization that documents laws and policies related to HIV, “case law [in Italy] has established that non-disclosure before unprotected sex is considered to be dolus eventualis (indirect intention) – which is more or less equivalent to the standard of culpability characterised as “recklessness” in common law systems.” GCS reported 14 cases of HIV transmission being brought before an Italian court between 1999 and 2014.

Talluto’s case is a complex mix of private and public spheres. In ruling on incidents of HIV transmission via unprotected sex, a judge or jury are asked to enter the bedroom of the accused and examine the actions that have taken place there. If found guilty, the perpetrator will be convicted of having permanently altered the life of their victim not with a knife or a gun, but with the most intimate act two people can share.