Australian Court Orders British Father Who Refuses to Give Daughter HIV Drugs to Return to U.K. with Child
An Australian court yesterday ordered an unnamed British man who refuses to give his three-year-old HIV-positive daughter antiretroviral medications to return to the United Kingdom with his daughter, BBC News reports. The man and child left the United Kingdom for Australia in 1999 after British courts ordered an HIV test for the girl, who was then four months old. The girl's mother had been diagnosed with HIV, but she had "ignored" doctors' advice to take antiretroviral drugs and to abstain from breastfeeding to reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to her child. After the woman died last fall, Australian officials tested the child, and when the test came back positive, the courts ordered that the girl be taken into temporary custody while the state began proceedings to compel her father to give her antiretroviral treatment (BBC News, 5/3). The man was apprehended by authorities this week in Sydney after violating a court order that barred him from traveling from Victoria, where the family was living. Police then took custody of the girl for the duration of the court proceedings (Associated Press, 5/3).
Effective or Toxic?
In an interview with BBC News, the father, who is described as an "alternative therapist with strong views on HIV treatments," said that his daughter is in "good health" and that authorities were overly concerned. The father explained that he objects to the use of antiretroviral drugs as anything but a "last resort" because of their side effects and toxicity. He also noted that before he was apprehended by police, he had been preparing to return to the United Kingdom, although he could still face charges there for violating the initial court order to have the child tested. "If you test positive for HIV in [Australia] then you have no rights. I just want to leave as soon as possible and get back to the U.K.," he stated. The man said that he plans to file an application with the European Court of Human Rights contending that the 1999 British court order "breached his right to family life," and he intends to file a harassment complaint if the British government tries to force him to give his daughter antiretroviral medications. Although Australian authorities have ordered the pair to return to the U.K., it is not clear what action, if any, British authorities will take once father and daughter arrive in the country (BBC News, 5/3). They are expected to leave Australia early next week, and the girl will remain in state custody until the flight (Associated Press, 5/3).