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Seattle Court Orders HIV Man to Stop Infecting Others

Update Date: Sep 17, 2014 01:54 AM EDT

A Seattle Court has ordered a HIV-positive man to stop infecting others, in a bid to minimize public health risk.

According to the Seattle Times, the King County Public Health department moved court seeking enforcement of a cease and desist order that requires the man to attend counseling and treatment appointments. The court's intervention was sought after the man infected eight others in the last four years despite being counseled on at least five occasions. The man, known only as AO to the media, came to know of his infection in 2008.

The man missed several appointments made for him with a treatment provider. When he did not respond, a cease and desist order was issued against him. Subsequently, public health officials sought court's assistance on the grounds that his behaviour endangers public health.

Reuters reported that the man could face jail if he fails to comply. However health officials maintain their objective is not to get people imprisoned but to protect public health. Seeking legal assistance is uncommon and not the first step, which usually is counseling.

"We're not trying to criminalise sexual behaviour here. We are trying to protect the public's health. We're trying to make sure that everyone gets the care they need, including the person involved in this," Dr Matthew Golden, director of public health at the county's HIV programme, was quoted saying by BBC.

Cease and desist orders are rare, Seattle Times informs. The last such order according to the county's public health officials, was taken out in 1993 against a sex worker. Golden expressed optimism that AO would cooperate with them this time.

"I think the patient is going to take his meds. The goal here is to get him to adhere to the health order. I am very optimistic that we are going to make progress," he told Seattle Times.

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