Seattle Court Orders HIV-Positive Man To Stop Spreading Disease, Reminds Us To Always Use Protection
If you had a highly contagious case of strep throat, you wouldn’t go around kissing people…would you?
Apparently, for some people, inflicting harm on others isn’t really ‘their problem.’
A Seattle judge has ordered an HIV-positive man to quit spreading the disease and start seeking treatment…after infecting eight people with the disease in four years.
That’s two people per year that “AO” (how the infected man is identified in court documents) is endangering, potentially fatally.
According to the September 4 order, “AO” is now required to start showing up for counseling and to protect future sexual partners, of which we hope there will be few(er). And if he doesn’t comply, he could face escalating fines, or even jail time.
According to Dr. Matthew Golden, director of Public Health, the purpose of this sentence is not to criminalize sexual behavior, but to protect the public’s health—and ensure everyone involved gets the proper care they need.
This isn’t the first time “AO” has been told to tone it down and/or seek help. He tested positive for HIV in June 2008, where he was counseled to disclose his status to past and future sexual partners, and practice safe sex going forward.
But with 8 new cases in four years ( between 2010-2014), and the fact that “AO has been ignoring court mandated medical appointments and counseling, it doesn’t seem like the message has hit home just yet.
That being said, I think jail time for something like this is totally justified. If his actions could ultimately lead to death for an innocent person, shouldn't he be punished?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 50,000 people in the US are newly infected with HIV every year. Roughly 16 percent of the 1.1 million people living with the virus do not know they are infected, making “AO’s” case even trickier, since he is fully aware of the harm he could cause to others.
The last time the King County Public Health department issued an order like this was in 1993, so let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend.
I think the biggest takeaway we can all get from this article is to protect yourself, especially when it comes to your sexual health. Sure, your partner may seem trustworthy, but that extra layer of protection (a condom) is more than necessary.
(Image via Shutterstock / //Andrey_Popov)