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HIV conviction could increase infections, warn experts

作者:董脆戒    发布时间:2019-03-05 13:06:00    

By Clodagh O'Brien Doctors have warned that the conviction of a Scottish man who transmitted HIV could discourage people from taking a test for the disease and actually lead to an increase in new infections. The man was recently imprisoned for having unprotected sex with a woman after being diagnosed with the virus, setting a legal precedent. The verdict criminalises anyone who infects a sexual partner, having known they were HIV-positive but not declared so. The British Medical Journal study predicts that if the number of HIV tests taken decreased by 25 per cent, there would be a resultant increase of more than a third in sexually transmitted infections. Karen Frobel, chair of the Scottish Voluntary HIV Forum, says: “I think that now you may hesitate in advising someone to have a test for HIV as you need to weigh up the benefits of being tested, against the possibility of legal action if someone was infected.” “There is potential for similar cases in the rest of the UK,” says Sheila Bird, from the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge and lead author of the new study. She adds: “Due to this verdict people may also be less willing to take part in HIV studies.” Annabel Kanabus of Avert, an AIDS Education And Research Trust, agrees: “This has enormous implications for medical research and puts a question over the extent to which things are actually confidential.” At the moment HIV testing is confidential in order to encourage people to take the test and seek counselling. In the future, Bird believes that a national proforma should be issued to provide guidelines for HIV patients and counsellors that would explain the legal situation for all involved. A legal precedent similar to the Scottish case was set in Canada in 1998. The Supreme Court convicted a man charged with aggravated assault, after he had had unprotected sex with two women without disclosing his HIV positive status. “Finding out what happened following this ruling in Canada is difficult as it is hard to quantify this type of data,” says John Godwin at the UK National Aids Trust. But Bird told New Scientist that such research could take place in Scotland:

 

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