Patient Loses Appeal to Have Condoms Supplied in High-Security British Psychiatric Hospital
A psychiatric patient, identified only as "H," has lost his appeal to have condoms supplied to patients at Ashworth Hospital, a high-security mental health inpatient facility in England, BBC News reports. Deputy High Court Judge Christopher Bellamy dismissed the patient's argument that the ban "breached fundamental human rights" and put patients at risk for STDs, stating that there was "nothing irrational" about the hospital's no condom policy. Ashworth does not distribute condoms and enforces a "strict 'no sex' policy" among patients, largely to maintain a "safe therapeutic environment" that would not leave "vulnerable" patients open to sexual abuse or exploitation. Hospital officials said a "rigorous observation regime" ensured the hospital's 420 patients "simply would not have the time or opportunity for sex." However, "H," who is homosexual, claimed he engaged in sexual activity with other patients even after being diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1998. He said that 10 patients have the disease and another six have hepatitis B, although none are infected with HIV. Bellamy said he was "unable to say that the hospital authority has acted unreasonably in adopting, as part of its no sex policy, a no condoms policy," adding that the observation measures were sufficient to prevent sexual contact and citing expert evidence that showed the risk of hepatitis C transmission through sexual contact was "close to nil." A spokesperson for the hospital said the institution was "pleased" with the decision, adding that the hospital "has always maintained the risks of issuing condoms are considered to be greater than the advantages." She stated that the hospital "has a duty of care to protect those who have been abused from further abuse and to stop those who have committed sex offenses perpetrating such offenses again" (BBC News, 10/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.