Media Release

Adelaide: Friday, 18 November 2016

Delegates at Australia’s national HIV/AIDS conference have condemned the governments of South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory over laws that force people accused of criminal offences to undergo mandatory HIV and blood-borne virus testing.

The conference passed a resolution this afternoon expressing its ‘profound disappointment’ in the laws, which make it mandatory for people to undergo blood tests if they are accused of spitting on or biting law enforcement personnel. The laws were passed in South Australia and Western Australia in 2014, and in the Northern Territory in 2016.

“Australia has a proud record of basing its HIV response on evidence-based policy,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Levinia Crooks CEO of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM). “These laws are antiscientific — the risk of transmission of HIV or other blood-borne viruses from saliva is practically zero. There is no justification for invading the privacy of people in custody by forcing them to undergo blood tests when there is no risk to the officer.”

“We understand the considerable risks faced by police and emergency services when they go about their jobs, but this is not the solution. There has never been a case of HIV transmission from spitting or biting in Australia.”

 

The full text of the resolution passed by the conference is:

As researchers, clinicians, and civil society representatives, we are united in our commitment to a HIV response grounded in evidence and protective of the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV. This conference expresses its profound disappointment in the governments of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory for enacting anti scientific and counterproductive laws mandating HIV testing for people accused of spitting on law enforcement personnel, in the face of overwhelming evidence that such laws are neither effective nor necessary. HIV is not transmitted in saliva and these laws only serve to further marginalise and criminalise people with HIV. We call on all governments to establish evidence-based protocols that protect the wellbeing of police and emergency workers and the rights of people living with HIV.

 

The Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference is the premier medical/scientific conference in the Australasian HIV and related diseases sector. The 2016 Conference was held in Adelaide from 16–18 November, in conjunction with the Australasian Sexual Health Conference.

 

ASHM16_SpittingLaws.jpg

Photo credit: Paul Kidd

For all media enquires, please contact:

Media Contact:  Petrana Lorenz — 0405 158 636  |  petrana@arkcommunications.com.au

 

Contacts available for further comment

Prof Mark Boyd (ASHM President) — 0424 144 186 (SA)

A/Prof Levinia Crooks (ASHM CEO) — 0411 249 891 (NSW, National)

 

See also

 

More about the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference

The Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference is the premier medical/scientific conference in the Australasian HIV and related diseases sector. The 2016 Conference was held in Adelaide from 16–18 November, in conjunction with the Australasian Sexual Health Conference.

The conference was first launched in 1989 in response to the emerging area of clinical care for HIV. Since its inception as a small meeting of medical practitioners brought together under the umbrella of ASAP (the Australian Society of AIDS Physicians) the HIV&AIDS Conference has grown into the region’s premier medical/scientific conference in the HIV and related diseases sector, attracting speakers and delegates from around the world.

Since 2005 the Conference has been held back-to-back with the Australasian Sexual Health Conference with one full day of overlap, providing a unique opportunity to look at HIV in the broader context of sexual health. Together, the conferences attract more than 1000 delegates from across the region.

Delegates to the conference come from a range of professional backgrounds including basic science, clinical medicine, community programs, education, epidemiology, indigenous health, international and regional issues, nursing and allied health, policy, primary care, public health and prevention, and social research.

Visit the conference website www.hivaidsconference.com.au