Friday, August 15, 2008

Decriminalizing Disease

By Michael Leshinski

A recent NY Times article reports on the 17th annual AIDS conference that was held last week in Mexico. The topic of the article was the decriminalization of certain instances in which the HIV virus is passed from one individual to the other. First of all, I didn’t even know that it was a crime for one person to give AIDS to another person. Although, I have always wondered what would happen to an individual who purposely and successfully gave the HIV virus to another human being. It also makes me think, what about other serious disease states. Types of Hepatitis, for example, can be deadly. When you think about getting the HIV virus, (that leads to AIDS), intravenous drug use and unprotected sexual relations with an infected person are the main reasons for contracting the disease. What about Hepatitis B, which is able to pass through sharing saliva?

Imagine that you made enemies with a person who has Hepatitis B. You’re sitting at lunch and you get up to go to the bathroom. You inadvertently leave your soda bottle sitting at the table. Your nemesis unscrews the cap on your favorite soda and then proceeds to wipe his/her saliva all over the portion that would come directly in contact with your own mouth. This is the way you contract the deadly disease which eventually leads to your death. Is the person ultimately responsible for your death punishable by law? By death? Now this story is obviously made up and a bit far-fetched, but I believe that it is still possible. Think about lesser disease like the common cold. Would that be punishable by fine? Would there be a scale to determine the disease to the punishment? Think about it.

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