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Aids Friday, 24 September, 1999, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Parents fail to have baby tested for HIV
HIV testing
The HIV-test case has divided Aids charities
The parents of a baby girl at the centre of a court wrangle have failed to bring her in for an HIV test.

The child was due to be tested at Great Ormond Street Hospital on Friday after a High Court ruling that it was in her interests to be tested for the virus.

Aids Special Report
The Court of Appeal backed the decision in a ruling issued on Monday.

Camden Council, which brought the case against them, says it is willing to give the parents a second chance and will make another appointment for them.

If they fail to meet this, it will go back to the court and could apply to have the girl taken into care or to have her made a ward of court.

Simon White, director of social services, said: "Following the decision of the Court of Appeal not to grant the parents leave to appeal, Camden Council would advise them to consider their position carefully."

It is feared the couple, who are viruluently opposed to testing, may have gone into hiding.

The Daily Mail said last weekend that they had fled abroad.

The girl's grandmother told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday that she did not know where they were.

Camden believes they may still be in London, but in hiding. It has obtained a court order to locate them.

If they have fled abroad, the courts may decide not to pursue them.

Care risk

A Court of Appeal judge warned the parents earlier this week that failure to present the baby for the test would not be sensible.

The five-month-old baby girl's mother is HIV positive. Her parents reject the notion that HIV causes Aids and believe testing will lead to further state intervention in her care.

If the test proves negative, for example, they fear the mother will be banned from breastfeeding since doctors say this carries a risk of transmitting the virus to the child.

If it is positive, the girl may be forced to take anti-Aids drugs to which the parents, both strong advocates of alternative medicine, are opposed.

'Wider implications'

The case has divided HIV charities. The Terrence Higgins Trust says testing will help guarantee that the baby receives the best treatment available, if necessary.

But Denise McDowell, services manager with Manchester-based George House Trust, said: "The courts have shown that informed consent is of no interest to them.

"What is also clear is that using the law in this way is likely to drive HIV underground.

"This is completely counter-productive, helping neither parents or children affected by HIV and threatening to stigmatise all who are worried about HIV."

The trust says the case has wider implications and could, for example, deny all parents the choice of refusing vaccinations for their children.

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