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Author Topic: HIV a disease, not a crime  (Read 204 times)


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HIV a disease, not a crime
« on: October 29, 2018, 02:11:08 PM »
HIV a disease, not a crime

Voice News letters to Editor 27/10/2018

I WANT WA attorney general John Quigley to review the laws regarding HIV in Western Australia.

I believe there should be greater clarity in the WA Health Act in regards to HIV transmission and that it should reflect a world in which HIV-positive people can live long and happy lives.

The lack of public education and HIV awareness designed to reduce stigma and discrimination that is still entrenched in the community as has been seen in the letter about Kerryn Phelps in the Wentworth by-election campaign.

The stigma in our own backyard needs addressing: implementing the U=U education campaign in the wider community would be a start to decriminalising HIV and removing stigma which is a barrier to testing and treatments.

The current health act states: “A person who has a notifiable infectious disease must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that others are not unknowingly placed at risk of contracting the disease”.

What exactly constitutes reasonable practices is unclear and currently left up to the courts to decide.

Today, those with an undetectable viral load are believed to be un-infectious yet no court in Australia has ruled that this satisfies the reasonable precautions test.

This ambiguity is concerning and can leave many unclear on whether they could face criminal charges.

While no criminal laws in WA target HIV specifically, it can be prosecuted under assault-based offences, which carry multi-year prison sentences.

While usually only applied to individuals that intentionally transmit HIV, it can be used against those that are only deemed negligent in their exposure.

HIV criminalisation delivers the inaccurate message that all people with HIV are inherently dangerous and that an adequate prevention strategy is to rely on partners to disclose and avoid those who share the information that they are living with HIV.

This overlooks the fact that grassroots HIV+ people are at the forefront, leading the prevention that has stopped AIDS in WA.

Decriminalisation of HIV in WA would help remove the stigma of HIV being a criminalised condition for positive people and would decrease community fear and the discrimination that still surrounds HIV, and lead to better education and a more informed public while making for a fairer legal system for positive people too.

Neil Buckley
HIV Institute of WA

Definition of Hats aka "Conflict of Interest" Statement: Mary-Jane is Editor of Perth Gay News, The Media Annuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan & Editor @ HIV Institute of WA.

#Twitter @AbbeyBlackSwan1

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HIV a disease, not a crime
« on: October 29, 2018, 02:11:08 PM »