Australia: ‘AIDs scare’ prompts staff to evacuate over 100 passengers from train
A train in Australia was evacuated recently after an intoxicated passenger who was bleeding from the leg claimed he had AIDs.
HIV charity group ACON has called the actions of the train staff “disgraceful,” saying they perpetuate 1980s myths about AIDs.
According to Fairfax Media, the incident occurred on Sunday afternoon when the man, who was allegedly drunk, had fallen off his bike on the platform and station staff were called on to treat his bleeding leg.
During this time, he allegedly said he had AIDs, which prompted staff to evacuate around 100 people from the train in the New South Wales city of Wollongong.
The disruption caused severe delays, and seven passengers became stuck in a lift at the station for 30 minutes, requiring emergency services to free them.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill told the Star Observer: “[These] actions, from a State Government-run enterprise, should not only have drawn an apology for the seven people who were needlessly frightened and evacuated, but also to the wider community of gay men and people living with HIV.”
New South Wales (NSW) Trainlink has denied the evacuation has anything to do with the passenger’s claims, and apologised for the inconvenience.
A spokesperson told Fairfax Media: “All guards are trained in first aid and if someone is injured, it is their duty to make an assessment to either provide first aid or seek medical advice.
“On this occasion, the guard provided assistance.’’
Mr Parkhill, however, said the incident was a “disgraceful example” of prejudice that still exists against people living with HIV.
“In NSW we are working with our community to ask them to get a HIV test more regularly, so they can know their status, and commence treatment earlier,” he said.
“If we have enough people doing that in NSW, we can virtually eliminate HIV by 2020. This sort of action by NSW TrainLink sets us back in that effort – it adds to the notion that HIV is something to be feared in the general community, which on a personal level, can make individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care.”