This ‘HIV scare’ story reads like something out of a 1980s tabloid

Joseph McCormick May 8, 2016
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A local news article about a policeman being involved in an “HIV scare” reads like something from a 1980s tabloid.

The Hucknall Dispatch, based near Nottingham, reported on a case of an illegal arrest by a police officer on a HIV-positive man with mental health issues and his mother.

This ‘HIV scare’ story reads like something out of a 1980s tabloid

The article claims that the police officer feared that he had contracted HIV when he learned that the man he arrested “had a medical condition that may be transferrable through spit,” when he was accidentally spat on by the man who became aggressive.

It also claims that he “rushed” to the hospital “once the man had been detained”, and that “after precautionary tests was he given the all-clear”.

Despite that HIV has occasionally been detected in very low quantities in the saliva of HIV-positive people, there has never been a recorded case of transmission through an HIV-positive person spitting on someone.

It is also not possible for a test in a hospital to immediately determine whether HIV-transmission had taken place minutes or hours after possible exposure to the virus.

The man and his mother involved in the incident pleaded not guilty and were acquitted after it was found that “it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt that [the police officer] told [the man] he was formally under arrest.”

Defending solicitors argued that the police officers, PC Andy Sansom and PC Lesley Wilson had not operated within “legal parameters”, and that they should have been more sensitive given the knowledge that the man they were arresting had mental health issues.

PC Sansom told Nottingham Magistrates Court of the “scare” that he had been “pretty shaken.”

He said: “It became apparent that he had a medical condition that may be transferrable through spit and blood.”

More: AIDS, HIV, spit, tabloid

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