October 22, 2012
The Adelaide, Australia, Police Association is requesting new laws to end the six-month wait for medical clearance for police officers who may have been exposed to bodily fluids in the course of their duties. The Police Association's position is that the person or persons who assaulted a police officer should be required to undergo blood tests to check for communicable diseases, as opposed to the current law, which specifies that only the assaulted officer must be tested.
After delegates voted in favor of the proposal at the Police Association's annual conference, Mark Carroll, its president, announced the association's intention to lobby state government and the opposition to change the law. Carroll explained that the incubation periods for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV cause the police and their families to endure stress while waiting months before knowing whether the officers involved are infected or healthy.
Police statistics show that officers were exposed to blood or other bodily fluids 110 times between April 1 and September 30. Of these exposures, 82 were inflicted when officers were arresting, restraining, or detaining an offender. Also, in 38 of the 110 exposures, officers were spat upon, and officers were bitten in nine. There were two incidents in which offenders attempted to bite officers, and one needle-stick injury occurred. Ten of the 110 offenders identified themselves as infected with hepatitis C and three with HIV.