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Man Accused of Spreading HIV Granted Bail in Australia

Plagued by HIV/AIDS, Australia has become extremely vigilant, detaining those suspected of spreading the virus. But some of them manage to convince the courts of contrition.

Like the Sudanese-born Lam Kuoth who was arrested earlier this week near his home in the Geelong suburb of Norlane in Victoria.

But he was freed Monday a magistrate who said he was satisfied that Kuoth had changed "very considerably.

Detectives from the sexual crimes squad charged Kuoth, 28, with recklessly endangering serious injury after it was alleged he knowingly had unprotected sex on April 22 with a 24-year-old woman who was unaware he carried the virus.

She was the only woman to make a statement to police, who allege that Kuoth had sex with other women, including two 16-year-old girls, since he became HIV-positive. Police said one 26-year-old woman, Kuoth's current partner, was infected and is pregnant.

Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said Kuoth came to the attention of the Department of Human Services (DHS) late last year, and was being monitored by health authorities.

Kuoth arrived in Australia in July and was diagnosed HIV-positive in October. He was placed at Thomas Embling Hospital in isolation by the department on April 27.

Detective Senior Constable Greg Nunn told the Geelong Magistrates Court that DHS served Kuoth with a health order on April 4 signed by then chief health officer Robert Hall ordering Kuoth to use condoms, disclose his HIV status and attend counseling.

"We had evidence he wasn't complying with a public health order," DHS assistant director of public health, Chrissie Pickin, told the court yesterday.

But Dr Pickin said Kuoth was "making progress" and was now complying. "He will be actively monitored and managed in the community," she said. "He remains a public health risk."

Magistrate Jon Klestadt said, "I'm satisfied on the evidence before me that
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