STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?

Last updated on July 13, 2020

hiv test results positive

In a time when the world continues to find ways to handle infectious diseases, we are increasingly realising the need to be responsible for our own actions in order to curb the spread of diseases.

While the spread of certain infectious diseases may be harder to control, given the nature of the disease, there are certainly other infections than can easily be prevented. A sexually-transmitted disease is one of them.

This article will explain what are Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs) as opposed to  Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STIs), and whether you can sue your partner, in the unfortunate case they’ve infected you with one.

It must be noted that the requirements and penalties provided by law, discussed hereon, apply to all persons, whether male or female, and regardless of the sex or gender of their partners.

What are Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STIs)?

While the terms STD and STI are often used interchangeably, they are technically different.

An STD is the most commonly-used term that refers to diseases contracted through sexual contact between partners. Prior to developing a disease, however, a person may already be infected by a pathogen such as bacteria, virus, fungi, protozoa or parasites, which can (and has been) transmitted through sexual intercourse – this is referred to as an STI.

People who become infected with a pathogen that can be contracted through sexual contact may not necessarily experience symptoms or have that infection turn into an actual sexually-transmitted disease.

Examples of known STDs include, among others:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV;
  • Chlamydia;
  • Syphilis;
  • Herpes;
  • Gonorrhoea;
  • Human Papillomavirus or HPV; and
  • Urea plasma infection.

Can I File a Police Report Against the Partner Who Sexually Infected Me?

If you’ve been infected with HIV 

Yes. Under the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA), a person who knows that he has HIV infection is prohibited from engaging in any sexual activity with another person unless he has fully disclosed his HIV-positive status to the other person and the latter has voluntarily agreed to accept that risk. A person who breaches this law can be found guilty of an offence.

Therefore if your partner does not disclose his/her status and engages in sexual activity with you deceitfully, knowing full well that they are hiding their status, then you may file a police report against your partner once you learn about their HIV-positive status.

It ought to be noted that merely disclosing one’s HIV-positive status is not sufficient. What is necessary is to ensure that the partner understands and actually appreciates the risk of being infected by HIV through sexual intercourse.

For example, if your partner disclosed their HIV-positive status to you while you were drunk and unaware of what was going on, and then goes on to engage in sexual activity with you, you might not have voluntarily agreed to accept the risk of contracting HIV from your partner. As a result, your partner may have also committed an offence that you can file a police report for.

What if a person does not know for sure if they are infected with HIV but may have reason to believe that they are?

If a person does not know for sure that he/she has an HIV infection, but may have reason to believe that he/she has been exposed to a significant risk of contracting the infection, he/she is also prohibited from engaging in sexual activity unless:

  1. He/she has informed his partner of the risk and the partner has voluntarily agreed to accept that risk;
  2. He/she undergoes the necessarily serological test and determines that he does not have HIV at the time of sexual activity; and
  3. He/she takes reasonable precautions (such as the use of protection) to ensure that he does not expose his partner to the risk of contracting HIV during sexual activity.

The written consent of the public prosecutor is required to institute prosecution for the above offence, but not for a person charged with that offence to be arrested.

What are the Penalties for Failure to Disclose Your HIV-Positive Status to a Sexual Partner?

A violation of the above-stated obligations under the law makes a person liable to a fine of up to  $50,000 and/or to imprisonment for a term up to 10 years. In 2018, a 29-year old Singaporean man was sentenced to 2 years’ jail for failing to inform his male sex partner that he was infected with HIV when they had sex 5 or 6 times between 2012 to 2013.

There are certain factors that affect how someone may ultimately be penalised for non-compliance with the disclosure requirement under the law, as shown below:

Band Sentencing range Factors
3 6 to 10 years’ imprisonment Actual transmission of HIV.

Any culpability-increasing factors would increase the starting point within this band.

2 2 to 6 years’ imprisonment High risk of transmission and/or greater culpability.

The more culpability-increasing factors there are, the higher the starting point within this band.

1 Fine to 2 years’ imprisonment Low risk of transmission and low culpability (generally, less than 2 culpability-increasing factors, or more culpability-increasing factors present but to a limited degree)

Culpability-increasing factors in this instance may include:

  • The number of times sexual activity occurred
  • The viral load of the HIV-positive partner at the time of sexual activity
  • Lack of use of protection during sexual activity

If you’ve been infected with STIs/STDs other than HIV

Someone who knowingly engages in sexual activity with another person without disclosing that they have tested positive for any other STIs/STDs, apart from HIV, may also be penalised under section 376H of the Penal Code for procurement of sexual activity by deception or false misrepresentation.

Under this section, if a person who is the carrier of an STI/STD engages in sexual activity with another consenting person, then they may be found liable if such consent was fraudulently obtained through lying about or not disclosing their status as an STI/STD carrier.

If the sexual act leads to harm, including the subsequent infection by the partner, then the person who infected the other may also be liable under section 321 of the Penal Code for Voluntarily Causing Hurt (VCH) to someone.

In some instances, a person may even be liable for Voluntarily Causing Grievous Hurt (VCGH) under section 322 of the Penal Code, because some kinds of STIs/STDs have been known to cause severe bodily damage – an example of this is syphilis, which in its latent stage, may cause brain damage, organ shutdown, and may lead to death.

Will the Offence of Sexually Infecting Someone Result in a Criminal Record?

You will not have a criminal record if you are HIV-positive and have been convicted of the Infectious Diseases Act offence of engaging in sexual activity with someone who has not voluntarily accepted the risk of contracting HIV from you.

However, if you are convicted of procurement of sexual activity by deception or false misrepresentation or of VCGH under the Penal Code, you will generally have a criminal record.

Even if you have been given a criminal record for these offences, you might still have the opportunity to have your criminal record treated as spent. This simply means that your record will be wiped clean. To qualify for having your record spent, you must first meet the following criteria:

  • If you were given a prison sentence, your imprisonment term must have been not more than 3 months;
  • If you were given a fine, the fine imposed on you must have been not more than $2,000;
  • You must not have any other conviction on your criminal record; and
  • You must not have any previous spent record on the register.

If you meet these criteria, you then have to remain crime-free for at least 5 consecutive years, starting from the date of your release from prison, or from the date that your sentence was passed if you were given a fine.

Once you accomplish this, your record will be spent automatically, and you will be able to legally declare that you do not have a criminal record.

If My Partner Has HIV or other STIs/STDs, Should I Also Get Tested?

Yes. Even if you only have one sexual partner, as long as you are sexually active, you’re always at risk of contracting STIs/STDs. And especially because regular sexual activity with your partner constantly puts you at risk of infection, it would be best to get checked.

Most STIs/STDs are not life-threatening as long as they are discovered early and treated accordingly. While there are some infections that are incurable (such as HIV), many of them can be treated with antibiotics.

What Should I Do If I Find Out I am HIV-Positive?

As mentioned earlier, if you were to engage in sexual activity with a partner after finding out about your status, you are required to make the necessary prior disclosure.

You may be required to undergo counselling after being diagnosed with HIV, and failure to comply may make you liable to a fine of up to  than $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

You are also prohibited from donating blood, as well as doing any other act which is likely to transmit or spread HIV infection to another person, such as activities that may lead to the sharing of needles. A person who violates this prohibition may be liable to a fine up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

I am a Foreigner and I am HIV-Positive. Will I be Allowed Entry into Singapore?

While HIV-positive foreigners intending to enter Singapore as a tourist or on short-term visit passes are allowed to enter Singapore, this is not the case for foreigners intending to stay in Singapore on long-term passes.

Foreigners intending to apply for such long-term passes will be tested for HIV beforehand, and those found to be HIV-positive may not be granted passes for entering Singapore.

Migrant workers who become infected with HIV while staying in Singapore may face repatriation.

What Should I Do If My HIV-Positive Status is Disclosed to Other People Without My Consent?

Under the IDA, anyone who becomes aware of a person’s HIV-positive status in the performance of his/her work functions or duties is generally prohibited from disclosing any information that could identify that person, without their consent.

This restriction may apply to medical practitioners, health workers, or authorities who are enforcing the regulations connected to the spread of STIs for example.

If a person discloses any information which may identify the HIV-positive person without that person’s consent, where they received such information in the performance of their functions, they may be held liable for a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 months.

This is unless disclosure falls within certain exceptions provided for under the law, which include:

  • Disclosure being required under a valid court order,
  • Disclosure to a medical practitioner who is treating the HIV-positive person
  • Disclosure to any blood bank
  • Disclosure to the next-of-kin upon said person’s death, among others.

If this happens to you, and none of the exceptions apply, then you may make a police report against the person.

We all have a responsibility to be sexually responsible towards our partner. An essential aspect of this is the obligation to disclose your STI/STD status to your sexual partner.

While it may be understandable to want to hide one’s status because of the stigma that may come with having an STI/STD, it is unethical and possibly even illegal to put someone else’s health deliberately in danger through non-disclosure and omission, for your own desire.

Laws are in place to ensure accountability if a partner lies to you about his/her STI/STD status, and in case your sexual partner has put you in this position, you may file a police report and seek legal assistance on the matter.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  2. When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  3. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  4. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  5. Is Lying to the Police or Authorities an Offence in Singapore?
  6. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  7. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  8. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  9. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  10. Do You Have a "Right to Remain Silent" to the Police in Singapore?
  11. Extradition: What If You Flee after Committing Crime in Singapore?
  12. Warrant of Arrest: What to Do If It is Issued Against You in Singapore
  13. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  14. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
Prosecution
  1. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  2. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  3. What is Private Prosecution?
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Criminal Records in Singapore
  6. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
Criminal Proceedings
  1. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
  2. Exercising Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  3. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  4. Mitigation Plea
  5. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  6. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  7. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  8. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  9. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  10. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  11. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore and When Will They be Ordered?
  12. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  13. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  14. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  15. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  16. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  17. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
  18. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  19. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
Sexual Offences
  1. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  2. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  3. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  4. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  5. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  6. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  7. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  8. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
  9. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  2. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  3. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  4. When Can You Legally Gamble (In Public or Online) in Singapore?
  5. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  6. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  7. Legal Drinking Age in Singapore and Other Drinking-Related Laws
  8. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age and Common Smoking Offences
  9. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Cybercrime
  1. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: Elements and Penalties
  2. Dishonest assistance and knowing receipt - The case of David Rasif
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  5. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore: Differences & Penalties
  2. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  3. Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
  4. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  6. What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal in Singapore?
  7. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
  8. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  9. Penalties for Unlawful Assembly and Rioting in Singapore
  10. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  11. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  12. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
  13. Complete Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  14. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  15. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  16. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  17. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  18. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  19. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  20. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
  21. Littering and Killer Litter Offences: Here are the Penalties in Singapore
  22. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
  23. Animal Cruelty in Singapore: Offences, Penalties & How to Report
  24. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  25. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
  26. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  27. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
  28. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?