The NZ AIDS Foundation is defending itself from attacks by two of the country's biggest newspapers which are casting doubt on one of the cornerstones of the Foundation's HIV prevention campaigns. In strongly-worded editorials the Dominion Post and the NZ Herald have said people with HIV must be required to disclose their status to prospective sex partners, regardless of whether they intend to practise safe sex. In the case of a straight HIV+ man who did not disclose his status but used a condom the court, in 2005, found that he had discharged his legal duty by taking sufficient steps to protect his partner. However, a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this month said that the ACC must pay a woman for suffering mental trauma after discovering she had been having unprotected sex with the same HIV positive man who featured in the 2005 case. It said that his failure to inform her had invalidated her consent and amounted to sexual violation. The Dominion Post said last Thursday there are still risks with condomed penetrative sex, such as the possibility of the condom tearing. The paper's editorial says it is "unconscionable" to expose a person to this risk without informing them of the risk. Today's NZ Herald also casts doubt on the efficacy of safe sex practices as promoted for over two decades by the NZAF and calls for a prison term for those who do not disclose even if they practise safe sex. It says the NZAF is "irresponsible" and questions the organisation's commitment to public health. However, in response the NZAF says that the risk of a person contracting HIV from from a single act of vaginal sex, arising from the slight possibility of a broken condom, is approximately 1 in 20,000, "the same as the annual likelihood of death from falling." It says punitive measures will deter people from testing for HIV and drive people with the disease underground where they cannot be reached by prevention or health care programmes. The NZAF says it encourages people with HIV to tell their partners but it does not want the force of law brought to bear. It says adhering to the basics of safe sex, the use of condoms and lubricant, is sufficient protection and that this has previously been upheld by a judge exercising "wise and objective judgment." The NZAF is understood to be preparing a response to today's Herald editorial in line with its response published in the Dominion Post the day after that paper's own stinging editorial. Approximately 85% of New Zealand's HIV epidemic is centred amongst gay and bisexual men. You can discuss this New Zealand gay community news story in the GayNZ.com Forum.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Monday, 19th March 2012 - 2:59pm
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