HIV and sex worker community agencies are increasingly concerned about the stigma created by the ongoing prosecution and public health orders against an ACT HIV positive sex worker without evidence anyone was put at risk.
The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions requested the 41-year-old Kingston resident be registered as a child sex offender this week as a means to track his movements, but has not produced or claimed any victim.
The man has already pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing for knowingly having an STI while working as a sex worker and failing to register as a sex worker, crimes unique to the ACT.
Despite previous reports, the man has not been charged with practising unsafe sex or knowingly infecting anybody with HIV.
A matter of 5km away, this person could have operated [legally], but in the ACT he can’t. As they travel from one jurisdiction to another they may not necessarily know the nuances, ACT AIDS Action Council general manager Andrew Burry said.
We are picking up some indications of the risk of disengagement from the outreach process, as a result of how sex workers believe this particular person has been treated, and yet effective outreach requires a high degree of trust.
Scarlet Alliance spokeswoman Janelle Fawkes said the ACT sex industry had a very good safe sex practices record and there was no reason for HIV positive people to be banned.
They’ve publicly revealed this person as HIV positive without any evidence to date in court that he has put somebody at risk, Fawkes said.
The person was not given a public health order until he was charged. That’s not an ideal situation.
Fawkes is calling on ACT Health and other state and territory agencies to not discriminate against sex workers when considering the use of public health orders.
ACT law places equal responsibility on both the client and the sex worker to use condoms.
The Scarlet Alliance is seeking HIV positive sex workers for a needs assessment study funded by the Elton John AIDS Trust, the first study of its kind in more than 15 years.
We have a positive sex worker working on the project, Fawkes said. People wishing to participate can call Kane on Fridays on (02) 9326 9455.
The Coalition of Australian Governments and health ministers will discuss harmonising protocols for dealing with people suspected of knowingly infecting others later this year.
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