Sunday, February 5, 2012

Suing over STDs

Just had to share this funny story with you all, though it's a month old. It's about Michael Brown, a high-profile surgeon who went to court for beating his wives and paying ridiculous amounts of money for strippers among other things. The first line of this article reads: "Like herpes, Michael Brown is the gift that keeps on giving. And apparently one of those gifts is...herpes."

Basically, he gave one of his ex-girlfriends vaginal and anal herpes and lied about his STD status. Bad luck in terms of virus shedding and generally poor manners, but what's the problem?

Apparently, it's actually a misdemeanor in New York (also in other states, including CA) to knowingly withhold information from a partner and/or intentionally spread an infectious disease such as an STD. This is based in the person's right to know and the harm done to them, and constitutes a form of assault/battery. Plus, if the person's rich and already in a ton of trouble, you can sue for emotional damages and add fire to the scandal.

It seems to me that this could make fights about who-gave-who-what and taking revenge messier, but I think it's cool that the courts have this kind of protection for those who were taken advantage of and contracted a life-long, stigmatizing, and limiting disease. I'm trying to imagine living with herpes—its painful outbreaks and the constant risk you'd put a sexual partner in even if they consented. Not fun. So, I hope people who have it know about this law!

-Annelise

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