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Fri 3 Dec 2004 In: New Zealand Daily News

The AIDS Foundation has hit back at a suggestion from MP Deborah Coddington that restaurant patrons have a right to protected from HIV+ waiting staff. In last Sunday's Herald, regular columnist Coddington attacked the Human Rights Act in a column entitled "Give the bird to invasive PC claptrap", in which she argued a popular Maximite line that discrimination was not necessarily a bad thing. "In a former life, when I owned a restaurant, I strongly opposed lobbying - predominantly by the AIDS Foundation - to include health in the Human Rights Act as a ground on which discrimination was illegal,” she wrote. “I believed my customers, who paid the wages of my staff, had the right to have their food prepared by someone who was not recovering from influenza and (dare I say it) was not HIV positive. But no, the law was changed and diners' health is secondary. How quickly the oppressed become the oppressors.” The AIDS Foundation says Coddington has displayed a surprising lack of knowledge of the way HIV is transmitted if she believes an HIV+ person is a threat to a dining public. “In the case of food handling, no-one is at risk of contracting HIV, it simply cannot be passed on in this way,” says communications director Steve Attwood. “Indeed, an HIV positive waiter is probably at far more risk of ill health when customers/other staff inconsiderately come to the restaurant with a cold or the flu, with the serious consequences these illnesses can have for a person whose immune system is compromised.” The Foundation also clarified that the public health is not being endangered by protections for people with communicable diseases for the sake of political correctness, as there are no such barriers to common sense. “Health regulations have, for many years, controlled access to jobs such as food handling by people who have communicable diseases; tuberculosis and hepatitis A are examples. The law does allow for an HIV+ person to be discriminated against if there is a real risk of the virus being passed to others.”    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Friday, 3rd December 2004 - 12:00pm

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