NSW Trains denies evacuation over HIV 

NSW Trains has denied claims people were forced from a train at Wollongong on Monday because of fears a fellow passenger whose leg was bleeding had AIDS.

The Mercury reported on Tuesday the train was evacuated after a railway employee assisted a man with a leg wound.

Train passenger Gail Freeme told the Mercury a message over the loudspeaker at Wollongong Railway Station had first advised that the train would be delayed, before another announcement asked passengers to get off and move to another platform to wait for a new train.

She said a railway employee had told her the injured man had claimed he had AIDS.

A NSW Trains spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed customers had been advised at Wollongong to move to another platform to join an approaching train.

However, she said this had nothing to do with the man’s alleged medical situation. 

‘‘Claims to the contrary are simply untrue,’’ she said.

She said passengers were moved because the train was already late, and the service was initially cancelled due to the guard who had assisted the man with his injury not being sure if she could continue her shift.

‘‘The train was delayed at North Wollongong as the guard provided first aid to the injured customer,’’ she said. 

‘‘The train was then delayed further at Wollongong and was initially cancelled. 

‘‘Customers were advised to catch the next train on platform one, however the guard advised they would be able to continue their shift and customers were asked to return to platform two to board their original service.’’

NSW AIDS Council chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said on Wednesday the incident showed there was still a stigma surrounding people with HIV.

“Stigma and discrimination have wide-ranging impacts on a person’s health and wellbeing including prejudice, negative attitudes, being shunned by family and peers, erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on accessing HIV testing and treatment,’’ he said.

Mr Parkhill says the state government’s HIV strategy  relied on a broad acceptance and de-stigmatisation of HIV.

“In NSW we are working with our community to ask them to get an HIV test more regularly, so they can know their status, and commence treatment earlier,’’ Mr Parkill said.

“If we have enough people doing that in NSW, we can virtually eliminate HIV by 2020.’’

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