Terrence Higgins Trust statement on spit hoods
HIV cannot be transmitted through spitting, and police forces should not use HIV as an excuse to justify spits hoods.
Terrence Higgins Trust condemns violence against police officers and other front line emergency workers. No one should be spat at during their work to protect the public. They also shouldn't be told they are at risk of HIV when they are not.
It is time for police forces to stop linking the use of spit hoods to HIV, and to start making decisions based on scientific evidence, rather than on misunderstandings or scaremongering.
The scientific evidence is crystal clear: HIV cannot be transmitted through spitting (even if saliva contains blood).
Whilst debate continues about the use of spit hoods this debate should NOT include HIV. Police forces must stop using HIV as an excuse to justify spit hoods. Spit hoods will not protect anyone from HIV, since HIV cannot be spread this way.
Social stigma remains one of the biggest challenges in the response to HIV. Incorrectly implying that HIV can be transmitted by spitting, only serves to deepen this stigma. Police forces must stop using outdated or incorrect information that perpetuates stigma around HIV.
Rather than police officers unduly facing anxiety and stress about a non-existent HIV risk, police forces would be better serving themselves and the public by educating their officers and occupational health teams of the facts around HIV.
Terrence Higgins Trust has been working with partners including National AIDS Trust and the British HIV Association to stop the incorrect and irresponsible inclusion of HIV in decisions around spit hoods and our work will continue. We stand ready to help police forces who want to know the facts about HIV.