County health officials get court order to stop HIV-infected man

From the Seattle Times

In a very unusual step, King County public-health officials have gone to court to try to stop a man with HIV who has infected eight partners in the past four years from infecting others.

“We’re not trying to criminalize sexual behavior here,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County’s HIV/STD Control Program. “We are trying to protect the public’s health. And we’re trying to make sure that everyone gets the care they need, including the person involved in this.”

The order, issued Sept. 4 by King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector, requires the man, identified only as “AO,” to follow a “cease-and-desist” order issued in late July by the public-health department requiring him to attend counseling and all treatment appointments made by public-health officials.

If he defies the court order, the judge could order escalating fines or even jail time.

“AO” tested positive at the Public Health STD Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in June 2008, where he was counseled to disclose his status to sex partners and how he should practice safe sex, according to papers filed in the court case.

Since then, despite having received HIV counseling at least five more times, he is believed to have infected eight adult partners from 2010 through this June. Public-health officials said in the court documents that eight people newly diagnosed with HIV had named AO as a partner with whom they’d had unprotected sex.

The officials in July and August served “AO” with “cease-and-desist” orders, the first specifying he attend counseling and the second adding the requirement he seek HIV treatment.

Continue reading on the Seattle Times online.

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