Gay men’s HIV support group Body Positive says an incident where a young gay Christchurch man who was embarrassed in a busy waiting room by a nurse shows stigma and discrimination are alive and well.
Liam Taylor, 24, needed a blood test to ensure he hadn’t caused a dental assistant any harm, when she injured herself on a needle used on him.
At St George’s Hospital he filled his details out on the incident report.
“I took it back up to the desk and the nurse said I had filled out the wrong section of the form. She said I needed to fill out the ‘source’ section, not the ‘recipient’ section because I was ‘the source of the HIV or Aids’. I was just totally shocked when she said that,” he has told Fairfax.
Taylor adds he was embarrassed, “and the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘is she just assuming that I have diseases because I’m gay?”
Bruce Kilmister from Body Positive is saddened by the incident:
“Despite the professional training all the medical professionals would have had – their phobia for HIV has over ridden all their standards of practice,” he says.
“When this case is examined dispassionately the panic from the dental assistant all the way up through her superiors to the laboratory staff have all negated any concern for the gay man, and for what is ostensibly a mistake in the dentist’s chair.
“I shudder to think of their reaction had the young gay male been found HIV positive.”
Kilmister says people living with HIV too often find themselves in these situations, having to carry the burden of other people’s fears, stigma, and discrimination.
“After being sad I would be very, very angry,” he concludes.