Letter: Correct response to Aids information

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The Independent Online
Sir: Contrary to the article 'All feel a little safer now?' (29 June), the News of the World did not assert that heterosexuals are 'spared' the risk of Aids.

What we did do was to report the claims by three women who had relationships with the HIV carrier Roy Cornes that he indulged in anal sex. As your same article acknowledged, biology suggests that anal intercourse is considerably 'riskier' than vaginal intercourse in transmitting the virus. Which is not to say that the rest of the heterosexual community can be complacent or foolhardy.

Nevertheless, the allegations of anal sex do potentially put a very different perspective on the Birmingham case, raising the question whether it may have been seized upon too readily in some quarters as the perfect corroboration of Aids as a wholesale and indiscriminate threat.

Naturally, many women might find it embarrassing or difficult to discuss openly a taboo sex act that remains illegal between a man and a woman. Given that three women were prepared to say that Mr Cornes committed such acts with them, it was an issue properly put into the public domain in trying to evaluate fully the Birmingham alert.

It is fair to say that Mr Cornes denies the accusation. But worth noting that, earlier last week through his solicitor, he also denied ever having unprotected sex with any partners or failing to tell them of his medical condition.

Finally, the Independent condemned our report as 'misleading' and 'ideological'. Surely, it would have been more misleading for us to have selectively omitted this new information? Unless, of course, the Independent believes that would have been the ideologically correct thing to do?

Yours faithfully,


Deputy Editor

News of the World

London, E1

1 July