22 Jun 2009

HIV support group expects more worried callers

6:40 am on 22 June 2009

HIV support agencies are expecting more calls on Monday from people concerned they may have contracted the virus from Auckland man Glenn Mills, who lost his fight on Friday to continue name suppression.

Name suppression was lifted in Auckland District Court on Friday for Mr Mills, a train driver who faces 14 charges relating to infecting and exposing people to the AIDS virus.

The AIDS Foundation says its four centres recorded an increase in calls on Friday after Mr Mills was identified.

The foundation's director of HIV prevention and communications, Simon Harger-Forde, says it is prepared for more calls on Monday.

Mr Harger-Forde says the case will prompt people who have had unprotected sex - whether with Mr Mills or others - to get an HIV test.

Another HIV support group, Body Positive, says it has received about 30 calls after name suppression was lifted.

It says about half of those who have called since then were women.

Body Positive chief executive Bruce Kilmister says a dozen people have been tested over the weekend.

Meanwhile, a Christchurch lawyer has warned police and the media to take great care in their handling of the case.

Christchurch barrister Nigel Hampton, QC, says the public health imperative clearly outweighs Mr Mills' right to retain name suppression so at-risk people can have themselves tested.

But Mr Hampton says it is also crucial that public hysteria be avoided.