There are actually people out there trying deliberately to spread the AIDS virus.
A PSYCHIATRIST who called Michael Neal the “most evil man” he had met in 20 years urged authorities to lock him up two years ago but was ignored.
Neal, a grandfather, formerly of Coburg, is accused of attempting to infect at least 16 men with HIV between 2000 and 2006 while he was subject to Department of Human Services orders not to engage in unprotected sex or attend gay beats.
The revelation came as a court heard yesterday that Neal claimed to have organised a “conversion party” in 2005 at which up to 15 men “gang-banged” a teenager to infect him with HIV.
The court also heard there was a “bug chaser” movement in Melbourne’s gay community who wanted to contract the disease and “breed” it.
Police allege two men contracted HIV from Neal, who is facing 121 charges, including intentionally causing a very serious disease, attempting to cause a very serious disease, rape, and possessing and producing child pornography. He has denied the charges.
Two Department of Human Services workers told his committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday that Neal’s psychiatrist, Dr Fintan Harte, told them in 2004 that the only way to guarantee the public’s health was to “lock this man up for life”.
Despite more than eight complaints about his sexual behaviour over five years, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Robert Hall, told the court on Tuesday he referred Neal’s case to police only last year after he was told the father of five had child pornography — a matter he considered criminal.
Department of Human Services worker Elizabeth Hatch told the court yesterday that Dr Harte expressed concern about Neal having unprotected sex with other people in July 2004 and believed therapy would have little effect, if any.
“He stated that Michael Neal enjoys infecting people with HIV and that he cannot see Mr Neal maintaining safe sex with others,” Ms Hatch, a registered nurse who worked on Neal’s case, said in a statement tendered to the court. “Dr Harte also said the only way to guarantee the public’s health would be to lock this man up for life.”
She said Dr Harte’s claim was put to an “HIV advisory case panel” and resulted in Neal being placed on an order to practise safe sex, not to attend sex-on-site premises, not to share injecting equipment and to continue counselling and contact with the department.
It was the first of four orders placed on Neal between 2004 and 2006 before police were notified of his case and arrested him in February last year.
Ms Hatch said Neal asked the department to pay for Viagra in 2003 because he found it difficult to get an erection with a condom on.
She also received a report that Neal had said “welcome to my club” after having unprotected sex with a man who did not know Neal was HIV-positive.
An HIV-positive man who said Neal tried to infect him with the virus in 2000 also told the court there was a movement of “bug chasing” and “gift giving” in the gay community — terms used to describe the deliberate transmission of HIV.
The student said Neal looked triumphant when he asked him how it felt to “take a big pos load” when they had unprotected sex in 2000.
“There was absolutely nothing arousing or erotic about what he said. It was more a statement of violence,” the student said.
Another man who alleges Neal planned a “conversion party” to infect him with HIV told the court that Neal claimed to have injected a 15-year-old boy with crystal meth, also known as “ice”, before he was “gang-banged” by up to 15 men at his Coburg home in 2005.
There was a time, perhaps 20 years ago or so, when the few people infected with HIV could have been compassionately separated from the general public, and combined with rigorous testing of the general population, the spread of the deadly disease could have been halted, or eliminated all together. Now AIDS is spreading everywhere, and there is a deadly fear of it in almost everyone. In Africa, AIDS kills more people than wars, famines and floods put together, and in some countries 1 in 5 persons or more are infected with HIV. People with HIV/AIDS through their numbers have even created a kind of masculine chic associated with having HIV.
I think we in Australia still have a chance to deal with the HIV/AIDS problem, but we need to deal with this realistically and accept that asking for voluntary restraint from carriers, many of whom do not know they are infected anyway, is hopeless. We need to deal with this in the same way as we would deal with any rapidly spreading disease. It may seem harsh, but we need to physically separate those people infected with HIV/AIDS from those that do not. We also need a program of compulsory screening for the virus. We could have done this before, but we did not and now we are paying the price. If we delay and the situation becomes as desperate as it is in Africa, then it will happen, and when it does it will be millions of people interned in spartan conditions rather than the thousands today that we could accommodate in comparative luxury until they pass away from AIDS.
I acknowledge that my proposal will severely restrict the rights enjoyed by people infected with HIV/AIDS, but I think that the overall benefit to society is just so overwhelming that they should made to sacrifice.
UPDATE: See the comments for criticism of my proposal.