Hong Kong sex assault victim to receive HIV treatment after it emerges an alleged attacker had the virus

Health minister Ko Wing-man pledges better protection for vulnerable patients and lobby group calls for 24-hour CCTV surveillance in public hospitals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 January, 2017, 4:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 January, 2017, 10:40pm

A mentally disabled boy who was sexually assaulted in a public hospital will be given emergency treatment for the HIV virus as one of the four suspects in the case was a carrier of the virus, the Post learned on Saturday.

It is understood the 17-year-old boy who was reportedly forced to perform oral sex on four patients in Kowloon Hospital is now under medical observation.

It will take at least three months before testing can confirm whether the victim was infected.

The four male suspects, aged 38 to 56, are also mentally disabled patients in the hospital.

They were released on bail and must report back to police in early February after being arrested on Thursday and Friday over the case.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said on Saturday that he was concerned about the reported incident and would talk to hospital officials about how they could strengthen protection for vulnerable patients.

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“We have the duty and responsibility to ensure there is a procedure in place, alongside the surveillance system and manpower, to protect those patients who cannot take care of themselves,” Ko said.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, there is an extremely low chance of becoming infected with HIV from oral sex, but there is still a risk if an individual has sores or wounds in his mouth or on his sex organs.

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he was shocked by the incident and worried the public would lose trust in public hospitals.

He suspected there were hidden areas in the hospital and that a shortage of manpower might be a factor in the incident taking place.

Alliance of Ex-mentally Ill of Hong Kong vice-director Philip Wong Man-lip said it was not uncommon for patients with mental illness to be the subject of harassment, and medical staff might not take their complaints seriously due to their illness.

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Wong suggested the hospital should install 24-hour CCTV or put in place other surveillance equipment in certain areas to prevent further incidents.

“Hospitals have a duty to protect patients in their care, especially those who appear to be more physically weak,” Wong said.

It is understood the victim told his mother during a visit that he had been sexually harassed by four other male patients on different occasions in December.

A spokesman for Kowloon Hospital said a complaint was received on January 7 from a male patient’s relative.

The spokesman said the hospital immediately reported the matter to the police and pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation.