Users on social media have slammed a story in The Courier Mail as “lazy” after the newspaper failed to acknowledge that HIV cannot be transmitted via spit.
The story, about a man who appeared in court over spitting on a security guard and claiming he was HIV-positive, was labelled “stigmatising” and “anti-scientific”.
Gallagher allegedly claimed to be HIV-positive after spitting in the face of a security guard who alleges he refused to allow Gallagher to leave a Brisbane venue carrying a drink.
HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva.
However, the charge was upgraded from serious assault to assault occasioning bodily harm after the court heard he had claimed to be HIV-positive.
Gallagher’s Legal Aid-appointed representation told the court that the man was not, in fact, HIV-positive. The court ordered Gallagher undergo testing.
“When HIV is used as a weapon, it is almost invariably by people who don’t have HIV,” activist Paul Kidd tweeted.
“Impossible to be infected with HIV by being spit on,” another used tweeted. “No single case report in literature.”
When #HIV is used as a weapon, it is almost invariably by people who don’t have HIV.
HIV CANNOT BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH SPITTING
WHY IS HE CHARGED WITH ‘ACTUAL HARM’?
ON WHAT BASIS IS HE BEING ORDERED TO BE TESTED?https://t.co/qt1rCGbDJE #HIVcriminalisation pic.twitter.com/5IQfTQX46h
— Paul Kidd (@paulkidd) August 5, 2018
I get the impression the author/editor want to frame the assault like the transmission is possible and drum up outrage.
— Rhys Parry (@RhysHParry) August 5, 2018
You 👏🏼 can’t 👏🏼 transmit 👏🏼 HIV 👏🏼 through 👏🏼 spit 👏🏼
Come on Australia. It’s 2018. Enough of this fear mongering stigmatizing bullshit. It’s lame. https://t.co/orSxvXmQ1j
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) August 5, 2018
HIV can’t be transmitted via spit. Let the @couriermail know that their lazy reporting isn’t good enough. Reader feedback and comments email: firstname.lastname@example.org
T: 1300 304 020 https://t.co/5soOcEii7W
— Nic Holas (@nicheholas) August 5, 2018
— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) August 5, 2018
At last month’s World AIDS Conference, experts published a consensus statement which put forth their position that the criminalisation of HIV has no scientific basis.
“Only certain body fluids—blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk” can transmit HIV.
In 2016, advocates called out laws in some states and territories which required people who bite or spit on police officers to undergo a test for HIV.
“HIV is not transmitted in saliva and these laws only serve to further marginalise and criminalise people with HIV.”
UPDATE: Stephen John Gallagher contacted the Star Observer with comment on this story.
Gallagher says that the he “peacefully left the establishment and was not refused to leave as CCTV will show.”
Gallagher says “there is no such order” to undergo testing “and no test was taken.”
This article has also been altered to clarify the allegations against Gallagher, and though it states the charges against him were upgraded from Serious Assault to Assault occasioning bodily harm, this is in fact a downgraded charge.