HIV carrier 'responds' to counselling

PUBLIC HEALTH officials in south Birmingham said yesterday they were 'cautiously optimistic' that the man at the centre of an Aids scare in the city had been persuaded to change his lifestyle.

Roy Cornes, 24, a haemophiliac and HIV carrier who has been accused of infecting four women, one of whom has since died of Aids, has been receiving intensive counselling at a secret address since his identity became known last week.

Mr Cornes is said to have infected the women by having unprotected sex, even though he knew he was HIV positive. The allegations have led to calls for HIV carriers who are promiscuous to be locked up.

Without confirming the man's name, South Birmingham Health Authority said that it had 're-established' contact with him, and given him further counselling. They said that his response was 'positive'.

Dr Bernard Crump, Director of Public Health, said the publicity over the case, and the authority's contact with him, provided 'grounds for cautious optimism that the man will behave in a more responsible manner in future'.

Yesterday, doctors challenged the view, aired in some weekend press reports, that the man's alleged practising of anal sex would make him more likely to spread the disease heterosexually.

Dr Alastair Geddes, a consultant in infectious disease in south Birmingham, said: 'Penetrative sex of any type is associated with the risk of transmitting the HIV virus . . . it is extremely misleading and irresponsible to suggest that heterosexuals might only be at risk through anal sex.'