It’s been seven years since the Sydney Star Observer masthead was retired and rolled in with Melbourne’s Southern Star newspaper to create a national title.

There were economic reasons for that decision but it also presented challenges in serving both communities.

Now, in its 40th year of publication, the Sydney Star Observer is back once again.

This month sees a rare and qualified apology from the Police Association of NSW after its president Tony King once again implied that HIV could be spread by saliva or by biting.

King has form in this area, and his comments are often picked up by a mainstream media who are still very ignorant about how infectious HIV is.

A 10Daily report from April this year shared the story of an officer who was bitten and scratched by an assailant.

The officer underwent infectious disease testing which 10Daily wrongly claimed “means an anxious half year of uncertainty for the officer, who will be unable to hug and kiss her friends and family for fear of potentially passing on any diseases.” 

In the same story, King asked, “can you imagine explaining to your own child why you can’t give them a kiss goodnight?”

This implies that HIV is as infectious as the common cold. This is a level of ignorance that belongs in the early 1980s. To hear it coming from police in 2019 is astounding.

In the fight to confront the AIDS epidemic we have invested much in educating the LGBTQI community about how to protect themselves against HIV. But it appears that ignorance about the virus is still very widespread in the heterosexual community.

If police officers are being exposed to bodily fluids of people who are resisting arrest then it is important that they are properly educated so that they do not carry these distorted fears.

People who have HIV aren’t werewolves or vampires. Biting someone is not a recognised pathway for transmitting HIV. This is something that everyone in Australia should know by now and if they don’t then the education system is failing them.

 

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