NSW opposition transport spokesperson Penny Sharpe has called for a review of procedures following media reports earlier this month of a possible ‘AIDS panic’ on a Wollongong train.

An incident aboard the 11.49am train between North Wollongong to Kiama on February 10 saw a whole train evacuated after an intoxicated man with a leg injury was allowed onboard at North Wollongong after falling off his bicycle while waiting at the platform.

According to some passengers, the train was evacuated at Wollongong when the intoxicated man claimed he had AIDS while a train guard was attempting to administer first aid.

Soon after the reports emerged, NSW TrainLink denied the evacuation had anything to do with the intoxicated man’s health status but was a safety precaution in case the train guard could not continue onboard the train.

Sharpe told the Star Observer it was up to Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian to ascertain exactly what happened on the day as it was worrying if government agencies were perpetuating medically unfounded notions about the risk of HIV infection.

“The incident, as reported, is a worrying example of the ongoing stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS,” Sharpe said.

“As the minister responsible for NSW Trains, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian needs to have her department examine its procedures for dealing with such incidents, and ask what can be done to improve handling of first aid under such circumstances.

“The minister should also ask why an entire train was evacuated. We should be long past the days of this kind of ignorance.”

The Star Observer contacted both the minister’s office and NSW TrainLink with a spokesperson for NSW TrainLink saying the organisation stood by its version of events.


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