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Melbourne case highlights HIV risks - NZAF

Wed 6 Aug 2008 In: New Zealand Daily News

The case of the Melbourne man who was convicted last week of knowingly spreading HIV to several men at orgies is a potent reminder of the risks of unsafe sex, and steps are being taken to ensure officials can act quickly if a similar case was discovered in New Zealand, says the NZ AIDS Foundation. Melbourne's Michael Neal During the five week trial, the court was told that Michael John Neal bragged that he had infected 75 people with HIV. Under New Zealand law, an HIV positive person is required to inform their sexual partners they have HIV, or always practice safer sex using condoms. If they do neither, they run the risk of criminal liability. "The Michael Neal case is a potent reminder that it's not who you are but what you do - using condoms for anal sex is the only way sexually active gay men can protect themselves against HIV," explains the NZAF's Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier. "There are significant risks involved to HIV positive people in having unprotected sex - including being re-infected with a second strain of HIV which is already resistant to any medication you are taking, and other sexually transmitted infections which can wreak havoc on a compromised immune system." In the NZAF's experience, people living with HIV and AIDS have shown a very high commitment to safe sex, says Le Mesurier. "They are the most aware of how awful it is to be diagnosed with HIV, and very few worldwide would ever consider it OK to pass the virus onto another. "We are aware that the proposed Public Health Bill is offering clearer processes for the very rare situation, if it were to happen in New Zealand, of someone who knows they are HIV positive intentionally not using a condom. Medical Officers of Health will be able to act more quickly than the five-year delay highlighted in this case in Melbourne." A one-page pdf explaining in detail the legal requirements around sex and HIV in New Zealand can be downloaded from the top link below.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 6th August 2008 - 4:00pm

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