Advocates condemn HIV spit test
HIV advocates have condemned a law in Australia which forces people to take a HIV test if they bite or spit on a police officer.
South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory currently require anyone who is accused of spitting on or biting anyone in law enforcement to have a blood test to ensure they aren’t HIV positive.
The motion against the law was passed unanimously at the Australasian HIV and AIDS Conference in Adelaide last week and criticised the law as “disappointing”.
“This conference expresses its profound disappointment in the governments of South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory for enacting anti-scientific and counterproductive laws,” it said.
“HIV is not transmitted in saliva and these laws only serve to further marginalise and criminalise people with HIV.”
Levinia Crooks, the Chief Executive of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine told the Star Observer that the law needs to be based on scientific evidence.
“These laws are anti-scientific,” she said.
“The risk of transmission of HIV or other blood-borne viruses from saliva is practically zero.
“There is no justification for invading the privacy of people in custody by forcing them to undergo blood tests when there is no risk to the officer.
“We understand the considerable risks faced by police when they go about their jobs, but this is not the solution – there has never been a case of HIV transmission from spitting or biting in Australia.”
Tammy Franks from the South Australian Greens added the law was pointless and was likely to increase the stress put on police officers who may believe they need to be tested.