HIV singer admits having unsafe sex
Star hid condition from lovers, court hears
A GERMAN pop star who discovered that she was HIV positive when she was 16, has admitted having sexual intercourse with three men without telling them she had the virus.
Nadja Benaissa, who was a member of the German girl band No Angels, told a court in Darmstadt, Germany, yesterday, she was "sorry with all my heart" and admitted being "careless" in not disclosing her condition.
The 28-year-old is facing five charges of attempted grievous bodily harm for having intercourse with the men without protection. She is also accused of one charge of grievous bodily harm after one of the men became infected with HIV. She denies all the charges. The court heard that the singer, who won her place in the band through a reality TV show, had known she was HIV positive since 1999. "I am sorry with all my heart," said the mother of one. "The last thing I wanted was for my partner to get infected."
Miss Benaissa, who has German and Moroccan parents, became part of No Angels, the equivalent of the group Girls Aloud, in 2000. They went on to become one of Germany's most popular bands, selling more than five million records before breaking up in 2003.
They reformed in 2007 and took part in the 2008 'Eurovision Song Contest'.
In a statement through her lawyer, she said she was told that the chance of passing on the virus was "practically zero".
"Therefore I also concealed the fact that I was infected to my acquaintances. I did not want my daughter to be branded by this. I told the band members because I trusted them. I never made it public because I thought that would mean the end of the band."
She told how her HIV status was discovered when she went to hospital, aged 16, for routine tests during pregnancy. "I was totally surprised," she said.
It is alleged that the singer went on to have intercourse with three men a maximum of five times between 2000 and 2004. Miss Benaissa said she was "careless during those days" and admitted she did not tell her sexual partners about her condition.
The 34-year-old man who claims the pop star infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004. He said he was tested after Miss Benaissa's aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV positive.
He told the court that her management tried to buy his silence over her condition, but he wanted her to go public with it and pay €100,000 to an AIDS research charity. If she had done this, he claimed, he would not have gone to the police.
"My quality of life has shrunk enormously. I cannot travel to many countries. I have been told by my doctor my condition can become full-blown AIDS at any time."
Miss Benaissa was arrested in April 2009, before a concert in Frankfurt, and held in custody for 10 days. The trial is expected to last five days and if found guilty, Miss Benaissa could be jailed for up to 10 years. (© Daily Telegraph, London)