ACON and Positive Life NSW Statement on Media Report on Spitting, Coronavirus and People Living with HIV

In relation to a 7News report regarding people living with HIV and spitting which aired on Tuesday 21 April 2020, ACON and Positive Life NSW have released the following statement:

“ACON and Positive Life NSW condemn any assault or threats to the health of our public officials and frontline workers as reported in the 7News report.

“But conflating risks around Coronavirus and/or COVID-19 infection with HIV transmission, as was done in the 7News report, is both inaccurate and irresponsible.

“HIV is not transmissible through spitting. There have been no cases of spitting being a transmission route for HIV in Australia.

“ACON and Positive Life NSW strongly believe in the importance of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all people from Coronavirus. However, sensationalist reporting based on outdated myths and stereotypes about how HIV and other blood-borne viruses are transmitted, only perpetuates stigma and discrimination, increases social isolation among communities affected by HIV and undermines HIV prevention efforts.

“Furthermore, the assertion in the report that the frontline worker will need to ‘wait months for test results’ is also false. A Coronavirus virus test only takes up to two days for a result, while a reliable HIV test result is currently available in 10-15 days from the date of any potential exposure.

“At a time when there is heightened community concerns around health and safety, inaccurately framing HIV as a public health threat that can be transmitted through spitting is irresponsible and will only serve to stir up further fear and anxiety.

“We know that the news media can make a real difference in increasing community understanding and awareness on issues such as HIV, and we implore them to do due diligence when it comes to the language and information they use in their reporting.

“For media reporting best practice, ACON and Positive Life NSW refer to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’ HIV Media Guide.”


David Alexander
Media & Communications
0428 477 042
[email protected]

Positive Life NSW
Craig Andrews
Communications Officer
(02) 9206 2177
[email protected]

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