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Wednesday, December 6th 2006

Hopefully Their Organs Won't Be Donated…

People with HIV who knowingly have unprotected sex and spread the disease will be prosecuted in China.

“Those who know they are infected with AIDS or are sick with AIDS and deliberately infect others will be severely punished according to the law,” the Beijing News said, citing an unnamed police officer as telling an AIDS prevention workshop.

It provided no details on what kind of sentences would be meted out, nor how police would prove the virus had knowingly been passed on by someone.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see some harsh punishments handed down. Not that sentencing guidelines in China are judicious or uniform but to see some death sentences wouldn’t surprise me. This is a country which by Amnesty International’s figures almost executes as many people as the rest of the world put together. And of course, we know that up until know, these good hearted criminals have been donating their organs.

The west has struggled with this very ordeal (not executing them, but prosecuting those who infect others) for a little while. Three years ago the UK had their first successful prosecution of a knowing infector.

Many HIV advocates continue to state that prosecutions do little to slow down infection rates but much to further stigmatize those with the disease.

“Numerous recent studies demonstrate that there are many valid cultural reasons why individuals do not disclose their HIV status, including fear of domestic violence, fear of familial or partner abandonment, and community rejection.

“To a considerable extent, the cases that come to the attention of the law indicate a failure to take into consideration the complexity of human relationships,” she said.

I don’t buy it. Certainly law enforcement needs to use discretion in deciding when a crime has occurred in these cases. But they need to do that in the application of many laws.

It should be clear: if you knowingly have unprotected sex while infected without disclosing your HIV status to your partner it should be a crime. No doubt about it.