Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Is Spreading STDs Criminal?

According to the Smoking Gun, a woman is suing star Falcons QB Michael Vick for giving her herpes.

I ended up getting sucked into a long discussion about this case when someone brought it up. But the specifics of this particular incident aside, how much responsibility should someone have when he spreads a STD to his partner?

My feeling is that there is no liability if the infected person was not aware of his own health, but if he does know that he is infected with any dangerous disease it is his responibility to inform his partner. If he does not, he should be charged with some form of assault, battery or murder depending on the severity of the disease. My understanding is that knowingly infecting someone is some sort of crime in most states but is not taken as seriously and is often not prosecuted.

In the end I am left with a few questions.

Does the obligation of informing a partner only exist when we are talking about HIV?

Is herpes benign enough to absolve someone from informing his partner? Does the fact that it is uncurable make a big difference?

When are civil penalties more appropriate? When are criminal penalties more appropriate?

In the end, I think one of the main reasons we continue to have a high rate of STDs is that when people get infected they don't feel the need to tell any suspecting sexual partners.

Certainly, you have some obligation to use protection, but blaming you for getting infected by someone who knew it would happen, seems very unfair. It is like blaming someone for being robbed because he did not have an alarm system installed in his home. Oh and if you have Herpes, allows you to find people in a similar predicament.

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