Authorities have taken the unprecedented step of charging a Vancouver man under the province's Public Health Act for allegedly refusing to comply with a medical health officer's orders for HIV treatment.
Vancouver's medical director of communicable disease control told CBC News the issuing of an order is rare enough in itself. But the case is the first time her office has resorted to the courts for enforcement.
"I cannot impress upon you to what extent this is an unusual step for us to take. This is not the norm," said Dr. Reka Gustafson. "One of the worst outcomes of taking this step is that the public mistakenly gets the impression that something like this can happen to them either easily or that there isn't due process or fairness or ethics."
CBC News has decided not to publish the 34-year-old man's name. His lawyer sought a publication ban Wednesday on details of a hearing held last month resulting in the man's release on $500 bail and four conditions that include complying with Gustafson's orders. According to a court document sworn in June, the four Public Health Act charges concern a nine-month period from August 2017 until this April.
The man is accused of failing to collect medication and failing to attend clinic appointments, the document says. The court document says the order was tied to the level of human immunodeficiency genetic material in his blood: once it exceeded a level that would make him infectious he was supposed to attend daily appointments. Gustafson would not comment on the specifics of the case itself, but stressed that the charges were sworn under legislation designed to protect public health as opposed to the Criminal Code.