Tuesday, April 14, 2009
To tell or not to tell...
via Globe and Mail, by Margaret Wente
Knowingly exposing others to HIV ought to be a serious crime.
Or should it?
That is the furious argument unleashed by the trial of Johnson Aziga, a man who was found guilty last week of first-degree murder. The murder weapon was unsafe sex. The thoroughly repugnant Mr. Aziga was found to have infected seven women with HIV, even though he knew he was infected, and even though he knew he had a legal obligation to inform his sex partners. Two of his victims died of AIDS-related cancers.
Peter Troyer, a 37-year-old Toronto man who is himself HIV-positive, has no doubt about where he stands. “It is absolutely reasonable to have a law,” he says. “He exposed people to a potentially dangerous virus without their consent. I wouldn't want to live in a society that didn't punish this behaviour at the highest level.
But Canada's gay and HIV-AIDS activist groups overwhelmingly disagree. They believe the law will further stigmatize people who are HIV-positive. It could lead to serious violations of people's human rights. It will remove the onus from uninfected people to protect themselves, and may even give them a false sense of security. Perversely, it may even lead to higher rates of HIV.
“It is important to understand that there may be negative consequences if these cases are brought to trial,” argues Mark Wainberg, a leading AIDS researcher and activist based at McGill University.
The logic is that if you don't know you are HIV-positive, you can't be accused of its transmission.
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