Train evacuated after injured man claims he has AIDS
A south-coast-bound train was evacuated yesterday after an allegedly intoxicated passenger who was bleeding from a gash on his leg, claimed he had AIDS.
NSW Trainlink officials evacuated more than 100 passengers at Wollongong station after the injured man, who was being administered first aid by a female transport officer, made the claim.
According to reports in the Illawarra Mercury, whilst everyone else was evactuated, the man was permitted to remain on the train until the next station, where he alighted and was then met by police and issued with a ‘move-on’ notice.
Adding to the drama, several of the evacuated passengers became trapped in a station lift at Wollongong for half an hour.
Nicolas Parkhil, CEO of ACON, said the response from NSW Trainlink was a disgraceful example of stigma and discrimination. Parkhill said the response showed there was still a long way to go towards educating people about HIV and AIDS.
“ACON continues to work very hard to de-stigmatise HIV in the NSW community. Yesterday’s actions, from a State Government run enterprise, should not only have drawn an apology for the seven people who were needlessly frightened and evacuated, but also to the wider community of gay men and people living with HIV."
Parkhill believes actions such as NSW Trainlink’s response, have a stigmatising effect on people living with HIV and AIDS, resulting in a wide-range of psychological damage and a negative effect on accessing HIV testing and treatment.
“In NSW we are working with our community to ask them to get a HIV test more regularly, so they can know their status, and commence treatment earlier. If we have enough people doing that in NSW, we can virtually eliminate HIV by 2020.
"This sort of action by NSW TrainLink sets us back in that effort – it adds to the notion that HIV is something to be feared in the general community, which on a personal level, can make individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care”, Parkhill concluded.
NSW Trainslink has not provided a comment at this time.