Mixed Public Health
Wednesday 20 September 2017
Last week the government took two steps forward and one step back in its response to sexually transmitted infections. Current requirements for people to disclose their STI status with sexual partners were replaced with a requirement to take precautions not to spread the infection. Disclosure laws are unique to NSW and they discourage testing.
But the government also created a new criminal offence with maximum penalties of six months in prison for a person with an STI who does not practice safe sex. Criminal offences already exist to deal with people who intentionally or recklessly put others at risk and there is no evidence that the spread of STIs warrants criminal justice intervention over other infections, particularly given most are easily treated. The biggest threat to the spread of STIs is people who don’t know they have a condition and we must focus on encouraging frequent testing. I was pleased the government supported amendments that I moved to bring forward review of the relevant sections by three years so that we can ensure our all-time high rates of STI testing are not impacted by the threat of criminal consensual sex. My speech is HERE.