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Police apologize for officer’s comment about getting AIDS from saliva

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 26th, 2017

Toronto police have apologized on Twitter for their officer’s false comment about getting AIDS from saliva.

During an arrest on Tuesday, a 51 Division officer told a man who was videotaping the incident that the suspect was “going to spit in your face. You’re going to get AIDS.”

The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) fired back on Twitter saying that’s not how the disease is transmitted.

The organization posted a poll asking if someone could get HIV from A) toilet seat, B) Saliva (spit), C) Skin-to-skin contact or D) None of the above.

The answer is D — none of the above.

The organization went on to say that the misunderstanding surrounding HIV transmission leads to stigma for those living with HIV, and that it “informs HIV non-disclosure laws.”

“While the science of HIV treatment and prevention have improved significantly, HIV stigma remains a challenge confronting many people living with HIV,” said Chris Thomas with the AIDS Committee of Toronto. “Given the video that surfaced showing a Toronto police officer relaying some severe misinformation about HIV transmission, it’s not hard to see why.”

“That officer’s misunderstanding of HIV transmission is the same misunderstanding that informs the laws that criminalize people living with HIV. The officer’s attitude is particularly alarming given that his job is to protect all Torontonians, including the most marginalized among us. And if this is what he said while being recorded, it’s alarming to think what is said in private.”

“We know there’s still a critical lack of awareness around HIV and other STIs, but the maliciousness with which this officer approached the subject is, I hope, increasingly rare.”

On Wednesday, night, police said their officer’s comment was “simply wrong” and they will bring in an HIV/AIDS expert for training.

So how is HIV spread?

HIV is spread by infected body fluids, such as:

  • blood
  • semen
  • fluid from the rectum
  • fluid from the vagina
  • breast milk

 

HIV can only spread when infected fluid from a person with HIV gets into the bloodstream of another person through broken skin, wet linings of the body (such as the vagina, rectum, or foreskin), and the opening of the penis.

If you have HIV, you can pass the virus to your baby during:

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • breastfeeding

 

You can only spread HIV, not AIDS. That is, whether you have HIV or AIDS, you can only infect others with HIV.

HIV cannot be transmitted through:

  • casual, everyday contact
  • shaking hands, hugging, kissing
  • coughs, sneezes
  • giving blood
  • swimming pools, toilet seats
  • sharing eating utensils, water fountains
  • mosquitoes, other insects, or animal bites

 

Source: Health Canada

ACT has more information on their website about safer sex, needle use, blood transfusions, and pregnancy. Click here to read their fact sheet.

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