Positive Life NSW has called steps to litigate over HIV transmission “a retrograde” step in the effort to stop new infections.

Responding to news of the first Australian case in a which a gay man has sued his ex-partner for infecting him with HIV, Positive Life’s executive officer Rob Lake has highlighted concerns over moving into the legal arena.

“HIV transmission must be dealt with primarily as a public health issue, not via judgement through the courts,” he told Sydney Star Observer.

“Limiting the transmission of HIV in NSW has never been reliant on blame and the concept of a guilty party, and it would be a retrograde and damaging step.

“People with HIV, our partners, families and friends have managed our way through the HIV crisis together with HIV negative people for over 25 years.

“The support and care of the health profession has been critical, but most particularly it has been the support of the community we live in.

“Cases of wilful or deliberate transmission are very rare,” he added. “Most people with HIV are deeply concerned about the risk of transmission and where accidents do occur, it brings regret and grief for all involved.”

Education over litigation remained imperative, Lake said.

“Education work aims to encourage and support well-informed communication between partners, at the beginning and throughout a relationship. This includes talking about HIV status, risk and slip-ups that happen,” he said.

“It is clear that a relationship between an HIV positive and an HIV negative person presents a risk for HIV transmission. This is especially so when decisions about whether to use or not use condoms are based on incorrect assumptions or information about transmission or sero-status.

“We know that condoms prevent the transmission of HIV. The decision to stop using condoms in a relationship is a serious one and must be made with careful consideration of all the issues by both partners. If there are doubts, condoms continue to offer the best protection.”

info: For more information about Positive Life NSW, or to become involved, email admin@positivelife.org.au or call 9361 6011 or 1800 245 677.

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