Seattle Takes HIV+ Man to Court

Seattle man 'AO' must get treatment, counseling
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2014 8:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Seattle court has taken what the Post-Intelligencer calls an "unusual move" to stop a man accused of infecting at least eight people with HIV from further spreading the disease. Hospital staff had advised the man, referred to as "AO," of safe-sex practices and told him to inform all sexual partners that he was HIV-positive when he was diagnosed in 2008. Instead, he infected at least eight people through unprotected sex between January 2010 and June 2014, health officials say. Now, a court order issued last week requires AO to follow a cease-and-desist order that specifies he must attend HIV counseling sessions and get HIV treatment, Reuters reports. But "the ultimate impact of the order will depend on the patient's actions," a Public Health Department rep adds.

The move is just the second time officials in King County, Wash., have placed an HIV-positive person under court supervision; the previous occasion was in 1993. "We're not trying to criminalize sexual behavior here," the head of Seattle's HIV/STD Program tells the Seattle Times. "We are trying to protect the public's health." If AO doesn't comply with the order, he could see up to a year in jail. A doctor who visited AO says he is "optimistic that we are going to make progress." (Meanwhile, a positive HIV test has halted porn filming.)

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