Brisbane Man’s Assault Charge For Spitting ‘Claimed He’s HIV-Positive’

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People living with HIV have expressed alarm over the case of a Queensland man who had charges against him after the court heard he allegedly claimed to be Positive.

The man allegedly got in an altercation with a security guard at The Royal George Hotel in Fortitude Valley,  accused of spitting in the face of the security guard and who refused to allow him to walk past the venue carrying a drink.

The Courier-Mail reported Stephen John Gallagher appeared in a Brisbane Court on Saturday charged with serious assault following the alleged incident on Friday night.

The charge was downgraded from a serious assault to assault causing bodily harm.

During the hearing on Saturday when the court heard that Gallagher had allegedly claimed to be HIV-positive after spitting in the face of a security guard.

Gallagher’s legal aid lawyer reportedly told the court that he had not been diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus.

The man was granted bail and the case will return to court on August 14.

However advocates for people living with HIV took to social media to express alarm over the case and media reporting surrounding.

‘HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva’

Criticism was also directed to the Courier-Mail for their reporting of the case, which described HIV-positive people as being “infected” and failed to clarify that the virus couldn’t be transmitted through the man’s saliva.

Late last month, 20 leading HIV experts issued a consensus statement highlighting the negative effects that criminalisation of HIV has on combating the virus and the stigma faced by people living with it.

“Criminalisation of HIV transmission creates an unjust public health environment where individuals living with HIV may be fearful about disclosing their status, which may delay their own engagement in care,” the statement read.

“We strongly recommend that more caution is exercised when considering criminal prosecution, including careful appraisal of current scientific evidence on HIV‐related risks and harms.”

Nerelle Harper

Nerelle is a contributor for QN Magazine and QNEWS Online

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