LawAnswers.com.au - Australia's #1 Legal Community

LawAnswers.com.au is a community of 10,000+ Australians, just like you, helping each other.
Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
Join us, it only takes a minute:

Class Action - Genital Herpes and STI Testing in Australia?

Discussion in 'Personal Injury Law Forum' started by CLF, 10 July 2014.

  1. CLF

    CLF Member

    Joined:
    10 July 2014
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think there is a massive class action waiting to happen but nobody will take on the medical or pharmaceutical fraternity. My story is embarrassing, but I don't believe it is my fault, or even the man who gave it to me. I found out a week ago that I have genital herpes (GH). This is a life sentence, there is no cure. The stigma attached to this is massive and I am worried now that I will never get married or have a permanent man in my life. Imagine before you get intimate with someone for the very first time, having to tell them "oh, by the way, I have GH. Any oral sex has to be with a condom/dental dam on, sex will always have to be with a condom and any contact at all down there has to be avoided or washed clean straight away." Yep, thats a real turn on and I'm sure will lead to a long lasting, loving relationship.

    The stress and depression associated with this is extreme. But Doctors say herpes is a minor issue and doesn't require testing.

    So, where do doctors come in? I say I don't blame the man who gave it to me because before I would have unprotected sex with my ex-partner, I insisted we both had to be tested. My sexual and general health is extremely important to me and he agreed without a problem. I asked my doctor for the 'full STI check' as did my ex. We both came back COMPLETELY CLEAR. On this basis I went ahead and had unprotected sex with him. We were only together a few months and had just broken up when I had the first outbreak of herpes, but it just felt like a small sore down there and I didn't worry about it. Unfortunately I kept getting the outbreaks each month. When I went to the Doctor and presented with symptoms, she informed me "No, herpes is not included on the general STI testing." And this is why I now have GH.

    So why isn't herpes included in the STI check? The blood test for GH is there, it is accurate and it is the largest STI in society, and by not even testing for it, Doctors are allowing (encouraging?) it to be spread. The figures I have read vary widely, but the LOWEST estimates are that at least 30% (maybe up to 50%) of people have the HSV1 virus (cold sores and/or less severe kind of GH), and that 12% (up to 20%) of people have the HSV2 virus (the more severe kind of GH). 1 in 5 people with the severe kind of GH. If you have had sex with more than 5 people, good chance at least one of them had it. And as it is spread from skin contact,not through body fluids, it doesn't even have to be direct sex - oral sex or even playing around in that area can spread it. This is not a druggo sharing needles or even unprotected sex issue - bodily fluids are not involved, the virus 'sheds' through the skin, and can be completely unnoticeable.

    The test is imperative because most people with GH DONT KNOW THEY HAVE IT. I'm pretty sure my ex didn't know he had it. Anybody reading this may be shaking their heads at the silly girl who caught GH...and YOU may have it. "Oh, but I get tested" I hear you say....please refer above. Most people with it don't show any symptoms and may never know they have it. They go around, getting clear STI checks, and then spreading GH to everyone they sleep with. These are the very people that would probably refuse to ever be with me because I have this 'dirty' disease, and they can go merrily on their way spreading it to countless other people. Simply because I show the symptoms when most don't. Or, if I were morally bankrupt, I could just wait until the physical symptoms go away and then go spread it to any of my future partners.

    The only way I could have prevented getting GH is if the STI check of my partner had shown up positive. For no good reason Doctors choose not to have herpes included on the "full" STI check. I believe it is because they (and the pharmaceutical companies) make too much money treating the symptoms of herpes, and as there is no cure yet, they would lose billions of dollars. They are also creating a massive market for whenever a cure is discovered. 20% (or even 50%) of Australia is around 5 million (13 million) people - big, but not that impressive on the larger scale. But the infected ratios are about the same in all developed countries, and worse in some. Hundreds of millions of people around the world, all being left to spread this disease in ignorance. Meaning that current 1 in 5 ratio is only increasing. Maybe they think it is easier to let the entire world be infected, and then it just becomes the status quo? It would definitely lose it's stigma then and I would just be 'normal'.

    Think about it - a disease that is not life threatening, the majority of people carrying it show no signs, that is passed simply by skin contact (needs only the most minute scratch or skin break to enter), that has significant stigma attached so that people try to hide it, and that over 20% of the population already has. How do you control that? Has the CDC / Doctors just decided this problem is too big, too hard to control and has too much potential to lead to segregation if people with GH were all known?

    Regardless of the why, I believe a class action is warranted. There would be thousands of people in my situation in Australia alone, who are only in this situation because they depended on the STI checks they get from Doctors. The blood test for herpes can easily be added to the usual STI testing - it is there, available and accurate. Doctors know this but they consider herpes a relatively minor problem (isn't life threatening and doesn't affect fertility - although there is apparently some risk of infection of the baby with HSV2 during child birth causing deaths) and they can't fix it anyway. I've also read they don't want to have to tell asymptomatic people who believe they are completely 'clean' that they actually aren't. I don't know why they don't include it - but I believe as the test is there and could be included, the fact that they don't makes them negligent and a large contributing factor to where I find myself.

    Myself and thousands of others have been 'injured' for life due to Doctors not screening for HSV in the standard STI blood test, despite it being easily available, and yet not even a response. This is a personal injury issue. If there is some legal reason why it is ok for Doctors to ignore this issue and give people a life sentence with GH, please at least tell me that much.
     
  2. winston wolf

    winston wolf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 April 2014
    Messages:
    347
    Likes Received:
    101
    I don't think this kind of action gets much air in Australia.
    I understand your frustration and have read you post but forgive me if I miss a point in my reply as it was very long.

    As I understand it you cant sue an industry of profession although possibly the labs that provided the test if it were promoted as a holistic STI test.
    Then I assume the report states what has been tested for and the consumer should check if it covers their needs (I understand you are relying on you doctors for this).

    Personally I think we may be better served if you lobby the AMA to promote awareness among GP's to suggest additional testing beyond blood tests when patients ask for STI tests.

    Good luck
     
    John R likes this.
  3. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    14 April 2014
    Messages:
    637
    Likes Received:
    165
    Hi CLF,
    Your question is one of the most interesting that I've read on the LawAnswers.com.au forums to date.
    1. Class actions are (still) relatively difficult to start with in Australia and even the most basic personal injury claims require clear demonstration of negligence.
    2. On this basis, have you questioned your doctor/GP to date as to why they didn't recommend a genital herpes test as part of the "full STI test" for you and/or your former partner? If yes, how did they respond?
     
  4. CLF

    CLF Member

    Joined:
    10 July 2014
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Winston. While it won't help me, I agree that seems like a logical place to start to fix this issue. As a starting point, I think people should at least know whether they have it or not. While some may still ignore the positive result and keep spreading it, rather than tell new partners they have it, I'm sure some people would have a conscience and take precautions. PS - you don't get test results back now in paper or electronic form, and its a process to try and get them. All Dr's will do is ring you if something comes back positive i.e. if you don't hear back from them you assume everything is ok, or you can ring the practice to see if there is anything that needs followup (practice won't give any details over phone but will say if Dr has reviewed results and if any followup has been requested).

    John R - I did ask my Dr. Firstly she said its because so many are HSV positive i.e. cold sores that its pretty irrelevant (I assume there must be a very basic HSV test that doesn't show type?), but when I asked about the blood test that can show whether its HSV1 or 2, she said they don't do that because its not on the standard STI lab list and it costs extra to do. I said that i'd never had a Dr ask me yet whether I wanted to pay extra to get tested for herpes as well, and if someone asked for a "Full" STI test, they probably expected that all the common STIs were already included. She kind of agreed but didn't seem to think it was a big issue just to test on presentation of symptoms. She said it was 'standard practice just to test on symptoms'. Next time I go to Dr I will press a bit harder. Particularly if she agrees that Drs not doing the test and not explaining the lack of herpes testing in the standard STI test was helping to spread the disease. I mean, its obvious that it is, but even if Dr's admit what they are doing is leading to people catching it, is there anything that can be done from there? Surely Drs must have some duty of care they are legally bound to?
     

Share This Page

Loading...