Aussies who don’t ‘take reasonable precautions’ to prevent HIV could be slammed with a $11,000 fine
A change to the Public Health Act could see those with HIV fined or imprisoned if they do not take ‘reasonable precautions’ to prevent the spread of the illness in New South Wales in Australia.
In the bill proposed by the New South Wales state government, those with HIV or an STI could be sent to prison for up to 6 months and/or fined $11,000 Australian dollars for not taking further measures to protect people from the virus.
Currently, ‘reasonable precautions’ are determined by each magistrate that conducts a trial.
HIV charity The Institute of Many wrote to the New South Wales Minister of Health Brad Hazzard to criticise the ‘terribly unclear’ amendment proposal.
“Currently, what counts as “reasonable precautions” is determined on a case by case basis by the magistrate,” charity co-founder Nic Holas wrote in the open letter.
“Could it be disclosing your status? Always using condoms? Having an undetectable viral load? All three? We don’t know because it’s terribly unclear,” he added.
The charity also voiced concerns that the amendment has the potential to “undo all of the hard work” in tackling HIV, which dropped to its record lowest rate in the state since the 1980’s at the beginning of the year.
“I am deeply troubled by the criminalisation of sexual health that has been proposed with penalties for offences against Section 79, which include the maximum penalty being that of $11,000 or 6 months imprisonment or both,” wrote charity co-founder Nic Holas to the Australian Minister of Health in the area, Brad Hazzard.
“This development has the potential to undo all the fantastic work NSW has achieved in tackling the HIV epidemic that has plagued our community since the 1980s as well as the continued work of dealing with sexually transmissible infections,” he continued.
Those who want to contest the amendment are also invited to use this letter template to write to the New South Wales Health Ministry.