The questions for Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan

The WA AIDS Council, the National Association of People Living With HIV (NAPWHA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) have all raised concern over the WA government’s Prison Amendments Bill 2020.

The leading HIV organisations in Australia have described the McGowan government as ignoring science in relation to the bill.

OUTinPerth has put several questions to Corrective Service Minister Fran Logan. However the Minister has not been able to respond to our inquiries. These are the questions the Minister is not answering.

In February the Minister released a media statement outlining that mandatory testing for HIV would be required to protect the safety of prison officers in situations where they may come into contact with the bodily fluids of detainees – as officers have to wait for three months to know if they have contracted HIV.

Currently HIV tests can detect antibodies within as little as 6 days of a person contracting HIV, would the Minister be able to outline why prison officers are not able to find out the results of their tests for a much longer period? 

In the event that a prison officer was under the belief they were exposed to HIV would they be able to access PEP treatment via the WA Health Department?

Last years at the Australasian AIDS Conference, which was held in Perth, a report from NAPWHA  highlighted that the last known case of a front line worker becoming exposed to HIV was in 2002.  Health experts describe the scenario as being “close to impossible”.

Given that it’s been 18 years since the last case, why is legislation needed for an extremely rare occurrence?

When the similar laws were introduced in WA in relation to Police Officer, then Attorney General Michael Mischin, told the parliament that it would be a rare occurrence that people would be forced to undergo a blood test.

However information obtained under Freedom of Information has shown that within the first 3.5 years of the legislation being introduced 387 applications for mandatory testing were made, and 377 were approved.

How often does the Minister expect prisoners will be requested to undergo tests for HIV and other blood borne viruses? 

In the proposed legislation, why is the person signing off on the mandatory test, a prison official rather than a medical professional? 

A vaccine for Hepatitis B is available, are prison officer required to have this vaccine as part of their employment? Does WA make this vaccine available to officers? 

Is the McGowan government concerned that by adding more laws which criminalise HIV there will be increased stigma about the diseases, which may lead to reduced testing? 

It has been reported that COVID-19 has been added to the list of diseases that can be ordered for mandatory testing under the bill.

Has the government added COVID-19 to the legislation to avoid the bill being sent to a parliamentary committee where the science of the minister’s claims would be tested? 

The Minister’s office has been contacted several times this week regarding these issues, but have not been able to respond.

The Legislative Council is expected to debate this legislation this afternoon. OUTinPerth will report live on the proceedings via our Twitter feed.

Graeme Watson

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