January 31st, 2008 at 08:00am
Originally posted 30/Jan/2008
I've been on the fence over this issue with the male sex worker and ACT health not identifying his medical condition…I've been leaning towards your argument that ACT Health should have informed the public, but today's revelation that he may have infected 250 people with HIV makes me agree with you completely.
This is a disgrace, those 250 people, if they're infected, could have infected hundreds more people by now, and those people could have infected others and so on…this all should have been announced a month ago when ACT health were first informed.
I can't see find any reference to the court case about this being over, so I'd be interested to hear how this public announcement fits in with Katy Gallagher's statements to you that her legal advice was that she couldn't say anything. If you try to talk to her tomorrow, I'm willing to bet that she'll be unavailable until three minutes to the hour.
For your reference, here's the story James Goodwin files for 2GB's livenews.com.au this afternoon:
Sex worker may have infected 250 with HIV
James Goodwin & AAP
1 hour 54 minutes ago.
Authorities in Canberra are desperately trying to contact hundreds of people who may have been infected with the AIDS virus by a male sex worker.
Hector Scott, 41, has been charged with knowingly infecting someone with a sexually transmitted disease and failing to register as a sex worker.
ACT Chief Health Officer Charles Guest confirmed on Wednesday the man had Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV.
"It is a very unusual step to take to mention the diagnosis of this kind in the interest of privacy," Dr Guest told reporters in Canberra.
"But we will be calling people this afternoon and discussing this diagnosis with them so we know that it will be in the public domain today so therefore I'll share that with you."
The health department have begun call around 250 people who Scott has telephoned in recent weeks to warn them they could be at risk.
It is believed a number of the man's clients could have been from interstate.
During 2007 he advertised himself as a prostitute in Canberra media using the names Adam and Josh.
The health department first became aware of Scott's actions on December 20 last year when notified by another jurisdiction. The department alerted police within 24 hours.
But Scott was not issued with a public health order – to stop working as a prostitute – until January 4, when he was arrested.
Anyone who has been in sexual contact with Scott is urged to see a doctor.
Update 31/Jan/2008: Mike Jeffreys interviewed Dr. Guest this morning, they went around in circles for a little while with Dr. Guest insisting that the government’s approach to this issue has not changed. Dr. Guest terminated the interview when he declared that Mike Jeffreys’s summary of the situation was incorrect (despite being almost identical to the story that Dr. Guest had told Mike a few moments prior) and that he didn’t have time to explain the investigation to Mike. Dr. Charles Guest hung up on Mike Jeffreys.
I think the PR people will be having a word with Dr. Guest today, as he was doing fairly well until he decided to hang up…he was holding his ground, and then he threw his credibility out the window by making it sound like an enquiry from the media about an important public issue was too hard and too time consuming. Dr. Guest did himself and the government no favours by hanging up…this is why Katy Gallagher should have been the person to spout non-answers, she could have read the same script, and just re-used her (possibly true) “I have to go and look after the children” line when it all became too much to deal with.
I will say this in Dr. Guest’s defence though, it should not be left to him to deal with the media, it should be the minister facing the media, not a public servant. Making Dr. Guest hold a press conference yesterday was a disgraceful act, and Ms. Gallagher should either be ashamed or discipline the person responsible.
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