Health Care

Vancouver police search for subject of unprecedented HIV-medication order

Police are searching for a Vancouver man who is the subject of an unprecedented court order to take medication for HIV.

Last October, David Hynd pleaded guilty to violating B.C.’s Public Health Act, marking the first time B.C. medical authorities used the courts to force someone into treatment for the virus that causes AIDS.

But he now faces six counts of breaching the terms of that order — and police are asking for the public’s help in locating the 35-year-old, who has allegedly eluded them for more than a month.

Public health officials have agonized over Hynd’s case for years, fearful to be seen as criminalizing HIV or contributing to any stigma around the virus.

They say they worked with community care providers to try to force Hynd to comply with health orders — only resorting to the courts as a last step.

“We didn’t make the decision lightly, essentially. We really wanted to make sure that we got this individual connected to care both for their own health and the protection of the people around them,” said Dr. John Harding of Vancouver Coastal Health, the regional health authority. 

“It unfortunately has escalated to a level that there now is this probation order and the matter is really behind Mr. Hynd and the police at this point.”

Hynd was given a suspended sentence and a probation order in which he agreed to take regular doses of antiretroviral medication to treat HIV. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The case centres on the management of Hynd’s HIV.

Health officials want him to take antiretroviral medication that will lower the levels of the human immunodeficiency virus in his blood to a point where he is not considered infectious.

CBC reported on the case last year when Hynd was charged, but did not to publish his name because of privacy concerns.

Those factors have changed with the new allegations and the Vancouver police force’s request for public assistance.

22 probation conditions

A B.C. provincial court judge gave Hynd a suspended sentence last October after he pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with the order of a health officer.

He was given an 18-month probation order that included 22 detailed conditions.

Among them, Hynd was ordered to comply with “directions, assessments, examinations, treatments and counselling” from staff at a Vancouver immunodeficiency clinic.

Hynd is the first person B.C. medical authorities have forced, via the courts, into treatment for the virus that cause AIDS. (David Horemans/CBC)

He agreed to pick up antiretroviral medication within one day of receiving a prescription and to “have sufficient antiretroviral medications in [his] possession” to avoid an interruption in treatment.  

He needs permission from Vancouver Coastal Health to leave British Columbia and must attend daily appointments if the levels of HIV in his blood rise above a certain level.

He must also “inform all present and future partners” that he has HIV any sexual contact, the probation order says. Condoms are also required when “the exchange of bodily fluids is possible.” 

‘Very unusual’

According to court documents, Hynd was allegedly late for clinic appointments, changed his residence without telling a health officer and failed to let the clinic know he would be missing an appointment,

He’s also accused of failing to show up for daily appointments which were supposed to kick in if he either failed to have tests on a regular basis, or if tests showed his viral load had risen above a level of concern.

Police say Hynd may be driving a black Dodge Ram with an Alberta license plate and is known to frequent downtown Vancouver.

“In general, people with HIV do not pose a risk to the public. This is an individual where it’s very unusual,” said Harding.

“Most people go into treatment both for their own health and for the protection of their partners and the ones around them. In this particular case, it was very challenging to keep this individual on treatment and we used every supportive measure that we had.”

Harding said the case has been difficult for medical authorities to deal with, particularly at a time when Vancouver Coastal Health has been successful in combating the spread of HIV in the Lower Mainland.

“There’s only been a handful of people that we’ve ever even put orders on. And then this is the only individual whereby we’ve had to take an extraordinary step to enforce that order,” he said.

“We just don’t want that to affect the overall access and people’s stigma towards HIV.”

Article source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/hiv-order-missing-david-hynd-1.5165751?cmp=rss

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