HIV-Positive Girl Whose Father Refuses to Give Her Antiretroviral Drugs Taken Into Custody Upon Return to United Kingdom
An HIV-positive three-year-old girl whose father was taken into custody last week in Australia for refusing to allow her to undergo antiretroviral treatment was made a ward of the state upon her return to the United Kingdom yesterday, BBC News reports (BBC News, 5/8). The child and her parents left the United Kingdom in 1999 after British courts ordered an HIV test for the then-four-month-old girl. 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 for HIV 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, an alternative medicine practitioner, to give the girl antiretroviral treatment. Australian authorities last week took custody of the child and apprehended her father in Sydney after he violated a court order that barred him from leaving Victoria, where the pair had been living, and an Australian court ordered that they be returned to the United Kingdom (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/8). The pair arrived yesterday at London's Heathrow Airport, where the girl was taken into custody "in accordance with the  court order." BBC News reports that she is said to have been taken to a hospital (BBC News, 5/8). A government spokesperson said the next step in the girl's treatment will be determined by her new legal guardian -- most likely social services -- and that the decision "may or may not" involve a new court battle (Associated Press, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.