Passengers were evacuated from a train in Australia on Sunday after a drunken traveller with a bleeding leg said he had AIDs, a decision by staff that HIV campaigners have called “disgraceful”.
The man, who was allegedly intoxicated, had fallen off his bike at North Wollongong station in the New South Wales (NSW) city of Wollongong and staff members were called to tend to his bleeding leg, Fairfax Media reported.
While they treated the injured man, he reportedly told staff that he had AIDs, prompting them to evacuate around 100 people from the train at the platform.
The intoxicated man was then allowed to continue on the train until nearby Unanderra, where he was met by police and NSW ambulance officers, the newspaper reported.
A police spokeswoman said the man was issued a ‘‘move-on notice’’ when he arrived at the station.
Will Harris, Head of Media at UK based AIDs and HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “There was no risk of the virus being transmitted to passengers; station staff were just courting panic.
"Even today, public attitudes towards HIV can all too often take on an edge of hysteria, which in turn fuels stigma and discrimination. Here in the UK, nine out of ten people with HIV tell us they think public understanding of the condition needs to improve.
"Stories like this show just how far it needs to come," he added.
Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of Australian HIV and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) charity ACON, told the Star Observer: ”[These] actions, from a State Government-run enterprise, should not only have drawn an apology for the people who were needlessly frightened and evacuated, but also to the wider community of gay men and people living with HIV.”
A passenger on the train, Dexter Freeme, said: ‘‘They made a bad decision to get the people off the train. They should have got him [the intoxicated man] off the train.
“But they got us all off the train so 100 people moved for one person”
The incident also caused severe delays for passengers.
New South Wales (NSW) Trainlink has denied the evacuation has anything to do with the passenger’s claims, and apologised for the inconvenience.
A spokesperson told Fairfax Media: “All guards are trained in first aid and if someone is injured, it is their duty to make an assessment to either provide first aid or seek medical advice.
“On this occasion, the guard provided assistance.’’