Labor’s Pointless Police HIV ‘Spit Test’ Will Do Harm



SA Greens MLC Tammy Franks today backed the unanimously passed plenary motion of the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Adelaide this week. 

Motion: As researchers, clinicians, and civil society representatives, we are united in our commitment to a HIV response grounded in evidence and protective of the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV. 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 mandating HIV testing for people accused of spitting on law enforcement personnel, in the face of overwhelming evidence that such laws are neither effective nor necessary. HIV is not transmitted in saliva and these laws only serve to further marginalise and criminalise people with HIV. We call on all governments to establish evidence-based protocols that protect the wellbeing of police and emergency workers and the rights of people living with HIV.

SA Greens Health Spokesperson, Tammy Franks MLC, stated: “No one supports spitting on a Police Officer but this policy of HIV testing them if they do is simply loopy, it’s not based on the science and will only serve to scare. The statement from experts in the field of HIV research and treatment today confirmed the Greens concerns that this law is ill-considered and let’s face it is likely to take up time and resources to implement. There’s still time to correct the error as it has yet to be rolled out.

“The SA Government law on HIV testing of those who spit on law enforcement officers is not only ludicrous but offers a false image that state Labor was standing up to protect those who protect us. Well we know the ‘tough on law and order’ rhetoric polls well but this law is simply pointless and will likely increase the stress put on the Police Officer who may believe the test is needed and so may be fearful while the process is undertaken.

“Not only is this law insulting to those it claims to serve it’s also setting some dangerous health precedents that will harm those with HIV who need our support not the stigma that will stop those people from disclosing. It is an approach that we know will fail the community if we want to reduce the occurrence of HIV transmission in our state.

“Dumb laws like this undo the many decades of outstanding efforts made by so many Australian Governments to lead the way on combatting HIV, surely the Weatherill Government surely knows better than to scare the community with false information on an important health matter?” 

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