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HIV ‘Menace’ Tragedy Need Never Have Happened

PRESS RELEASE

25 October 1999

Gael Donoghue
Health Spokesperson


HIV ‘MENACE’ TRAGEDY NEED NEVER HAVE HAPPENED

“The tragic case involving an HIV homosexual man need not have happened,” says Gael Donoghue, Health Spokesperson for the Christian Heritage Party.

She was commenting on the so-called ‘menace to society’, Christopher Truscott, an intellectually disabled beneficiary, HIV positive male prostitute, who claims to have had sex with 4000 men in the past five years. He was arrested on a charge of criminal nuisance in Christchurch last week.

Mrs Donoghue said that the Christian Heritage Party has been calling for years for HIV to be made a notifiable disease alongside AIDS. “Unfortunately, politicians and legislators are coy about this need. There have been several tragedies that could have been avoided recently involving people becoming infected or put at unnecessary risk – even innocent children at school. Still our request falls on deliberately deaf ears,” she said.

“How many more Truscotts will it take before the authorities realise the need for HIV to become notifiable?” she asks.

“In this case the medical officer of health, who was informed of the HIV infected Truscott’s promiscuous behaviour and was also told Section 79 of the Health Act could be used to isolate men such as Truscott with infectious diseases, did not act. The health officer said he decided not to invoke Section 79 because it did not apply to Truscott ‘because he only had HIV, a non-notifiable disease, rather than AIDS which is notifiable’! This interpretation may have resulted in many men becoming HIV infected. The officer was told in December and did not take action until May, by which time the Police had acted.”

Mrs Donoghue asks why a medical officer of health given advice, and fully understanding the implications of HIV infection, took so long to do anything.

“We are also told that health professionals had known for ten years of Truscott’s continuing work as a male prostitute in Auckland, Wellington and since 1997 in Christchurch. Why did not any of these people act? The point is, if HIV was a notifiable disease, all these people in authority could have acted quickly and an ill, handicapped man could have been isolated and cared for,” she said.

“A final question needs asking” said Mrs Donoghue. “Why didn’t the Auckland Venereologist, who first named Truscott a ‘menace to society’ ten years ago, seek help and protection for his patient?”

The Christian Heritage Party believes that HIV urgently needs to be classified as a notifiable disease to help break transmission of the infection and offer medical assistance, information and education. “We urge the next Government to give this matter urgent priority,” Mrs Donoghue concluded.


Contact: Mrs Gael Donoghue on (06) 347 6000 or (025) 514 980
Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766


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