Sunday, 8 October 2017

Deliberately giving someone HIV downgraded to a misdemeanor in California

It's a common refrain among those who want liberalisation of the drug laws to say that drug use is a public health issue, not a criminal issue. Here's Shirley Cramer of the Royal Society for Public Health, for example...

"The time has come for a new approach, where we recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and that those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment.”

I don't really agree with this. Drug use can be a health issue but the vast majority of people who take drugs do not harm their health and do not become addicted. As far as I'm concerned, drug use is an issue of personal liberty. It would be better if governments viewed it as a health issue rather than a criminal one because they would then decriminalise or legalise drugs, but I don't think drugs are a health issue per se and they are certainly not a 'public health' issue.

The term 'public health' has been greatly distorted in the last 30 years and is now applied to any issue that can affect the health of more than one person. If defined properly, however, it refers to health risks which require collective action to safeguard individuals. People can be exposed to contagious diseases without their knowledge or consent. They can be exposed to industrial pollution without their consent. That is what makes them public health issues.

An infectious disease like HIV/AIDS is therefore a public health issue. So guess what the loony state of California has done now?

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California 

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

Even by the standards of the West Coast, this is insane. And guess what the justification for it is?

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement.

It feels as if the state government has taken the well-worn line about why we should treat drug users as victims rather than criminals and applied it to the issue of people deliberately infecting other people with a serious infectious disease.

Mr Wiener is quite wrong to say that the existing law treats 'people living with HIV as criminals'. It does not. It treats people living with HIV who do this sort of thing as criminals. Wiener is a dangerous imbecile and his justification is idiotic. He might as well have said that legalising asbestos was the 'first step toward treating mesothelioma as a public health issue'.

This is a state where you can be fined for smoking in a park, but the government wants to be more tolerant of people who knowingly donate HIV-positive blood to blood banks.

It was always a safe bet that California would be the place where 'public health' went completely round the bend, but who would have imagined in their wildest nightmares that the moment would come when they decided to make it easier for people to spread AIDS?

Still, if you're in California and you get infected with HIV while having a blood transfusion, take comfort from the fact that it's all part of treating HIV as a 'public health issue'.

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