A British man has been sentenced to three years in prison for knowingly infecting his partner with HIV.

Forty-seven year old Mark James was convicted in April of this year, but only sentenced on Friday for the crime. He absconded shortly after being found guilty and was sentenced in absentia.

He is the first gay man to be convicted of the offence in the UK since laws allowing people to be convicted for knowingly transmitting the virus to others was passed. Four heterosexuals have been convicted in the last three years.

According to evidence presented during the trial, James was aware for seven months that he was HIV positive but did not reveal this to his partner, whose name has been kept under wraps.

The partner was warned by a friend and confronted James, who denied being positive. The two continued to have sex until the partner discovered his HIV status only after being tested. He then took the matter to the police who filed charges against James.

James originally pleaded not guilty to the charge of committing grievous bodily harm, but later changed his plea to guilty. A warrant was issued for his arrest but he has not yet been found by the authorities.

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