Jun 20

Nightmare journey for woman deliberately infected with HIV

“It’s just…”
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For a full five seconds the words hang in the spring sunshine as the woman tries to convey in words something few of us can even imagine.

“It’s like an attempt against your life.

“But it’s so subtle and it creeps up so subtly that you don’t even perceive it as that. But until you finally come to that realisation it’s the only thing that can transform and heal what you’ve gone through.

“Before that it’s just swimming endlessly and having no aim, no way to cope.”

The 38-year-old Sydney massage therapist sitting across the road from the Downing Centre District Court is HIV-positive, a diagnosis which entitles her to anonymity under NSW law.

Ten years ago she was infected by a man – Chris Muronzi – who knew he was carrying the disease but maliciously decided to have unprotected sex with her on six separate occasions.

Thanks to an appalling conspiracy of circumstances, including the negligence of doctors at an eastern suburbs medical clinic where she went to get tested, the woman then accidentally passed the disease to her new partner before she was diagnosed.

She has just come from the courtroom where Muronzi, a 42-year-old Australian of Zimbabwean descent, appeared in a brief sentencing hearing on the charge of maliciously inflicting grevious bodily harm, a charge which carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence.

She has agreed to speak publicly about her experience for the first time in order to encourage people to take better care of their own wellbeing – both those who have the disease and those who do not.

“I met him at an event where a friend of mine was modelling her jewellery,” the woman says of her first encounter with Muronzi as a vulnerable 27-year-old.

“I was a struggling make-up artist at the time. I was actually rejected [for a job] that night. I was told that I wasn’t required or needed. I’d also recently finished a significant relationship. … I wanted to have a really nice time with someone. Maybe I thought, here we go, we’ll start a fresh with something different.”

Though Muronzi was not into using protection, their initial sexual encounters were safe ones.

“It was a few months into it that I put my guard down,” she says.

“I’d seen him more often and I’d seen him for a few months already.”

The woman had no idea that her lover had been diagnosed with HIV eight years before in 1995 and had been receiving treatment and advice from a Sydney doctor for all of that time.

This included advice on managing his condition and his legal responsibility to disclose his HIV status to any sexual partners.

He never gave even the vaguest hint to the woman that he had the disease, even when she rang and told him years later about her own diagnosis.

It took a court-ordered blood test for the truth to come out.

The woman’s discovery of her own condition was even more convoluted and painful.

Her decision to get tested stemmed, simply enough, from a general discussion with her new partner about the attitude of Australian women towards safe sex.

“It was a conversation bordering on an argument,” she says.

“He was commenting on Aussie women being a bit blasé about protected sex. He was generalising about it so we had an argument. I said, would you like me to have a test? Would it make you feel safer and better? So that’s when I went ahead with the test.”

In March 2004 she went to the Bondi Junction Medical and Dental Centre.

The result was inconclusive but the recall letter for urgent retesting was sent to her old address, which she had given on visit to the medical centre in 1999.

When the woman returned three weeks later, she saw a different doctor who called up her records on his computer.

He did not read a note made by the centre’s medical director, Dr Harry Johnson, that she needed a repeat blood test, and gave her the all-clear for HIV.

About a week later she had unprotected sex with her new partner and infected him with the disease.

It was not until June 3 of that year that Dr Johnson tracked her down and she was told of the need for another test, which confirmed the diagnosis of HIV.

“What the f—? those were the exact words that came into my mind,” she recalls.

“My jaw just dropped … I couldn’t deal with that reality. I was walking around in a daze.

“I felt completely responsible at the time for him and for the impact it would have on him. It just devastated me, it was one of the worst days of my life. Inadvertently causing someone complete harm. Not knowing how to cope with that. I had never really had to think about that.”

Even harder, she recalls, was having to tell her partner.

“I said, ‘I don’t have good news to tell you’.

“Just the simple possibility of him being negative was the hope as clinging on to. A few months passed before he go the courage to test himself. And it was positive.”

The man subsequently sued the Bondi Medical Centre and two of its doctors. The doctors admitted liability in 2009 and agreed to pay him $745,000 plus $197,500 in court costs. The company which owns the medical centre was ordered to pay him $300,000 in compensation two years later.

The woman gave evidence during the court proceedings, devoting a huge amount of her time and energy to do what she could for him.

But not long after her own health took a turn.

She came down with Pneumocystis pneumonia, which forced her into hospital for the next six weeks. In hospital she suffered an allergic reaction to medications and near constant insomnia.

As well as being horrific, the experience was, in the woman’s words “a dose of reality”.

She began taking anti-retroviral medications which she had previously avoided.

She also decided to go to the police with her now overwhelming suspicion that Muronzi was responsible.

“I realised that I had to go through the process … I had to stop this happening to anyone else, first and foremost, but I also needed to do this for myself. I think going through the process was maybe my last attempt at gathering some information to help me let go.”

A blood test proved that Murzoni was responsible, and soon after he pleaded guilty, which entitles him to a 25 per cent discount on sentence when judge Penelope Hock hands down her decision in November.

The woman wants to see justice done, but she has a much stronger desire to move on and help others do the same.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t go there,” is her advice to others about sex, but also life more generally.

And for those who do contract the disease: “Act soon for yourself. support yourself first because you’re number one in this. Care for yourself.”

Muronzi will be sentenced on November 25.

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Jun 20

Help plant the Campaspe

Revegetation along the banks of the Campaspe River through parts of Kyneton will be enhanced by volunteers this Sunday, October 6.
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The Campaspe River working group, and any other interested people who would like to be involved, will partner with the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Landcare to continue their riparian rehabilitation works along the river.

The planting will be a follow-on from recent weed control. Areas along the river have been colonised by invasive species including crack willow, gorse, blackberry and broom. They prevent local indigenous species from regenerating along the river and so are continually being removed.

The revegetation day this Sunday will run from 10am-noon alongside the river adjacent to the Pig Pens in the Kyneton Botanic gardens. The Campaspe River working group will even provide morning tea for all planters!

“Revegetation works will help ensure sustainable conservation outcomes for our local river which is Kyneton’s component of a healthy Murray Darling river system and will also complement the North Central CMA’s Caring for the Campaspe program,” said member of the river working group, Don Smith.

Many of the plants to be planted on Sunday will be swamp sedges and tussock grasses. These plants grow low in the environment so will not block views of or access to the river itself. There will also be a handful of shrubs along the riverside and a few trees on the upper slopes.

All plants are sourced from local seed provenances as these plants are used to the local climate and geology, Don said. Everyone is welcome to attend the river bank planting day along the Campaspe River. You can stroll along the river walk or drive into the area and park near the Pig Pens. You’ll see the planting area from there.

Everyone is welcome to attend the river bank planting day along the Campaspe River at Kyneton this Sunday.

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Jun 20

Cricket set to return – with changes

GCA – Now that the football season is over, attention is slowly turning towards cricket with the Grampians Cricket Association 2013/14 season set to begin in less than a fortnight.
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The big inclusion this summer is the Swifts/Great Western B grade team in the A grade competition.

Swifts/Great Western B has been promoted to A grade after three B grade premierships.

This is the first time in the history of the GCA that two teams from the one club have entries in the number one grade.

GCA president, Anthony Martin said the decision was forced upon the executive because of the desire to have an eight team premier division.

Navarre also joins A grade after finishing runner up to premiers Swifts/Great Western last season.

However St Andrews has dropped out of A grade, telling the Association last week it doesn’t have a competitive top tier team.

It didn’t come as a surprise to the Association, with the Saints reportedly losing batsman Jacob Bates to Golden Point while talented youngster Matt North is trying out with a team in Geelong.

Mr Martin was disappointed by the news.

“We had asked Halls Gap to do a straight swap, but they weren’t terribly confident. They have lost a couple of key players,” he said.

Mr Martin said that boosting the A grade competition back to eight teams, with four matches each round, was the Association’s main priority when last season ended.

“Our first move was to make sure that any byes were inthe lower grades,” he said.

Grampians Cricket Association resumes play in less than a fortnight.

“Last year, we had the issue of A grade playersdropping back to C grade and distorting results, causing a bit offriction.”

St Andrews’ representatives met with Association officialson Sunday night to discuss their future and the decision was made to drop backinto B grade.

The side had approached two clubs (Tatyoon and Chalambar) todiscuss merging teams but neither team was interested.

Halls Gap remains in B grade while Willaura andRhymney/Moyston have been lifted from C grade into the second tier competition.

Aradale was supposed to join B grade, but successfullyappealed against its grading from C to B when club delegates met withAssociation officials last week.

Mr Martin explained the reasons behind Aradale’s appeal.

“They finished outside the top four (in fifth) lastseason but we couldn’t take Chaly, who won the premiership because they alreadyhave a team in B grade.

“We had to take the top three sides that didn’t alreadyhave a team in the B grade competition.”

In B grade, it is the same format as A grade with two daygames played for the majority of the season while C grade sees teams play eachother for just one day each round.

“Basically, they have problems getting a team togetherfor two days.You can have 10 or 11 for one day and do it again next week.

“That’s the beauty of C grade, plus you’re there foronly half a day,” Mr Martin said.

“But for the development of their young cricketers,they really need to play a longer version of the game.”

The Association was hoping that B grade would have an eightteam competition, rather than seven but now it has no choice other than toimplement the bye.

In other news, reigning A grade premier Tatyoon is a chanceto combine with Buangor to field a lower grade side.

“They are a halfway step back to getting seconds,”Mr Martin confirmed.

Mr Martin did say there was a big question mark over acouple of C grade teams.

Last year’s late withdrawals, Wickliffe/Lake Bolac andElmhurst along with St Andrews, were all in doubt to return this season.

Wickliffe/Lake Bolac was extremely doubtful while at thisstage, Elmhurst has re-entered the competition after a one year lay-off.

C grade has also changed its format slightly for season2013/14.

The overs in the one day matches have been reduced from 40overs to 35, with bowlers allowed a maximum if seven overs, down from eight.

Grampians Cricket Association 2013/14 season begins onSaturday, October 12 and will commence with three one day matches.

Finals will be played over the Labour Day long weekend fromMarch 8-10, 2014.

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Jun 20

Fisherman saved from surf 

A KOREAN man is recovering in hospital after almost drowning off Point Lookout on the weekend.
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Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain Joel Di Trapani said the man, aged in his 50s, was fishing with three friends off the north wall of North Gorge when he fell into the surf at about noon on Saturday.

He was floating but unconscious and not breathing by the time a surf club rescue boat arrived.

The man was taken back to Main Beach, where surf club members performed CPR and Point Lookout doctors administered shots of adrenaline before paramedics arrived.

A defibrillator and further shots of adrenaline were used to revive the man, who was then airlifted by Emergency Management Queensland helicopter to Princess Alexandra Hospital.

He remains at the hospital in intensive care, but is able to breathe without assistance.

Uncertainty remains over how the man fell into the water; one witness said he lost his balance while reeling in a fish, while another said he had snagged the line and was grabbing equipment when the incident happened.

Mr Di Trapani said he had “never been more proud” of club members after the rescue.

“It was the perfect rescue and perfect resuscitation,” he said.

“Everyone was cool, calm and collected and I’ve never been more proud to be a member of Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club.”

The rescue was only one part of an especially busy weekend for Point Lookout surf life savers, with three other people treated for serious injuries.

Later in the afternoon a teenage girl was airlifted after suffering water inhalation.

One surfer was rescued with a broken collarbone and another suffered a fin chop to the leg.

Rough conditions on Sunday also forced a mass rescue of beachgoers from Main Beach.

EMERGENCYcrews respond to a near-drowning at Point Lookout on Saturday. Photo by ALISON MULLER

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Jun 20

Epique success

Game won: Raymond Wu, 15, Michael Jia, 15, and Linzi Zhu, 16. Picture: Carlos FurtadoAn epic assignment has turned into a big win for computer game enthusiasts Michael Jia, Linzi Zhu and Raymond Wu.
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The year 9 students from James Ruse Agricultural High School created turn-based role-playing game Epique, which took out third prize in the years 9 and 10 category of the Young ICT Explorers competition in August.

“It’s a pretty simple story,” Linzi said. “You’re on a quest to save your sister from the clutches of an evil dragon.”

Michael, who coded the game, said the group used sprite-based graphics and RPG VX Ace software to complete it.

“It’s similar to other RPGs of its genre, such as Final Fantasy,” he said.

“It’s sprite-based, so it all looks pixilated, but almost retro-style, like the old Pokemon.”

Raymond acted as project manager, while Linzi wrote and developed the plot.

In Epique, main character Elan Monette marches through a forest and battles various monsters with the help of sidekicks Rose Michaud, a powerful mange with healing and damage capabilities, and Jack Fitzroy, a strong and silent rogue.

The group has no plans for a sequel, but would like to polish the game, which they allow friends to download.

‘‘We had a strict schedule, but we’re pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished,’’ Raymond said.

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Jun 20

Nurses raise funds for very worthy cause

Top nurse: Kelly Mitrovich and Pam Bold, nurses at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, with Paul Heath will hold a trivia night to raise money for the Hunter Baillie Ward. Picture: Gene RamirezTwo nurses at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead have gone above and beyond their daily nursing duties.
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Kelly Mitrovich and Pam Bold, both from The Ponds, have teamed up to hold a trivia night on Friday, November 1, at Parramatta Leagues Club to raise much needed funds to buy an infant humidifier — a new machine proven to decrease the length of stay in bronchiolitis patients as well as decrease the number of admissions to Paediatric Intensive Care Unit— for the Hunter Baillie Ward.

Ms Bold said infant humidifiers could improved patient care and shorten the average stay for their very sick and young patients.

“A lot of our patients are getting better quicker and they are going home quicker,” Ms Bold said.

“It means that mums can cuddle the babies while they are having this treatment, control feeding and they are comfortable.”

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has six of these machines, valued at over $5000 each, on rotation throughout the hospital.

In June, 463 children were admitted as patients into the 28-bed Hunter Baillie Ward.

In the warmer months the ward also admits up to 300 sick children a month. Ms Bold said with additional infant humidifiers, they could help more patients.

Peter Sterling will be a guest at the trivia night and there will be auctions, raffles and many prizes to be won.

Tickets cost $60 per person and this includes a buffet dinner.

■ Details: Kelly Mitrovich, 0402 061 092 or [email protected]

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Jun 20

Thieves hit Straddie camp

THIEVES have raided a North Stradbroke Island camp site and stolen property from several tourists.
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The offenders visited the Flinders Beach campsite late on Thursday and stole electronic equipment and alcohol from a number of tents and camper vans.

One family even had keys stolen from their camp site, though they were found a short time later.

A burglary victim said her family had cut their holiday short and returned to the mainland after the break-ins.

“After the night of the robbery, we could not sleep; we knew they were there and didn’t feel comfortable any more,” she said.

Police have asked the public for any information about the incident, but no witnesses have come forward.

A police spokesman urged tourists to keep an eye on their possessions while camping.

“People should ensure they take care of personal items,” he said.

“It can be difficult while camping to ensure all items are secure. We urge people to keep safe during the holidays.”

Anyone with information about the incident can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Jun 20

In brief

Pool safety bid
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The Royal Life Saving Society is urging all residents who own a pool to register in an online database for the Be Pool Safe campaign.

The aim is to reduce the number of drownings in the state, which totals 67 children under five years in the last decade. It takes three minutes to enter details in a database at swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au .

Power bill rebate

Households could receive up to $250 to help manage their electricity bills as part of the state government’s Family Energy Rebate for the 2013-14 financial year.

More than 540,000 families are eligible to received the rebate as a credit on their electricity bill. Details: energy.nsw.gov.au/customers/rebates.

Club earns praise

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children acknowledged the efforts of the Hills District Lantern Club at the Annual Lantern Club luncheon in September. The 18 club members were praised for raising $30,785 for the institute last year.

In total 22 Lantern Clubs raised just over a half-million dollars for the institute.

Scholarship won

Kellyville resident Anushka Bhatia has won a $14,000 merit-based University of Technology, Sydney engineering co-operative scholarship, sponsored by Robert Bird Group. She will also be given access to industry networking events.

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Jun 20

True tales of rescue

The tales of rescued farm animals are beautifully told in a book to be released this week, on World Animal Day.
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Edgars Mission Farm Sanctuary residents, including Edgar himself, have their stories told in

The Gift Of Kindness by sanctuary founder, Pam Ahern.

The book features photographs, quotes and true stories of pigs, cows, sheep and more.

“Every animal at the sanctuary has a story to tell and while each story is different in its own right, they are all brought together by a single act of kindness that saved a life,” Ms Ahern says.

“There is Ruby the working dog who got a second chance and discovered her perfect job and there is dear old Miss Marple, a cow so close to death it is a miracle she survived. But she did.

“All these stories give a glimpse into the peaceable world in which we all can live and I am sure they will resonate well with animal lovers and kind hearted individuals the world over.”

For those who don’t know, Edgars Mission all started with a pig … and grew and grew! It was born from the love for a tiny piglet, the eponymous Edgar Alan Pig.

Ms Ahern rescued Edgar in 2003, and went on to start the farm sanctuary.

Giving up her secure full-time paying job, hanging up the boots on her successful equestrian career and saying goodbye to ever having a ‘normal’ life, Pam set forth to create a safe haven for farmed animals, such as her beloved Edgar.

Since that fateful day, thousands upon thousands of farmed animals have been given a second chance at life and thousands upon thousands of humans have had their first chance at getting up close and personal with pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats and more.

The Gift of Kindnesswill be released on World Animal Day, this Friday, October 4, at 1.30pm in Federation Square Melbourne as part of the Edgar’s Mission World Animal Day celebrations.

Book signings will be held this Saturday at Kilmore Bookstore, 11am-1pm, and at Aesop’s Attic Bookshop, Kyneton, 2-3pm. Come along to meet Ms Ahern and get your copy of the book.

Edgars Mission Farm Sanctuary founder, Pam Ahern, is releasing a book telling the stories of the farm’s many rescued creatures.

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Jun 20

Stories swirl as kids take on challenge

Well read: Riley Bush and Charlotte Ulrich were among about 259 William Clarke College pupils from kindergarten to year 8 who completed the 2013 Premier’s Reading Challenge. Picture: Natalie RobertsYear 6 pupils at William Clarke College, Kellyville, turned to a new page of achievement when they collectively read more than 1500 books for the 2013 Premier’s Reading Challenge.
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It is the first time an entire grade at the school has completed the challenge, which aims to encourage a love of reading.

Classmates Riley Bush and Charlotte Ulrich, both 11, found time to meet the quota of 20 books between March 1 and September 1, between homework and outside school activities.

These included swimming practice five days a week for Riley and dance and tae kwon do for Charlotte.

“I was reading some books at home and some at school,” she said.

“My favourite one of what we got to choose was Hairy Maclary.”

Head of the school’s library service John Stanton took book requests during the challenge.

The approved reading list for years 5 and 6 included a wide array of books, from Asterix comics, picture books and non-fiction to Emily Rodda’s popular Deltora Quest series.

“Everybody from the best readers to those who struggle with reading have completed it so it’s pretty amazing,” Mr Stanton said.

“The more they can read when they’re younger, the greater their vocabulary and the greater their pool of stories they can draw on.

”I think it’s important for these year groups because when they are in high school they have different demands on their time, and the reading demands in some of their subjects are higher. The higher up they go the less time they get to read for pleasure.”

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