Not disclosing herpes? Punishable crime or simply a risk you take?

thumbprint Failing to tell sex partners of an HIV-positive diagnosis can land you in prison. Recently it has been debated as to whether or not the same rules should apply to other sexually transmitted diseases?

Toronto police issued a safety alert notifying the public it is conducting a sexual-assault investigation into allegations that earlier a man had unprotected sex with a 28-year-old woman without disclosing he has genital herpes.

Because of his silence, James David Hogg, 35, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault.

“Police believe there may be more victims,” reads the alert, which includes a photo and description of the man.

The case, however, has prompted objections that police have gone overboard in protecting people from infection.

“This is the criminal law run amok,” criminal defense attorney Jonathan Shime told The Toronto Star.

Mr. Shime, who is part of a group seeking guidelines for prosecution in HIV non-disclosure cases, noted that genital herpes doesn’t carry the same risk of harm as HIV or AIDS.

“The police just don’t get it,” he told the Star. “They are undereducated about sexually transmitted infections. Who knows what’s going to be next: genital warts?”

In 2009, Johnson Aziga of Hamilton was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for deliberately infecting two women with HIV. Several others have been charged or convicted of aggravated sexual assault for knowingly exposing their sexual partners to HIV.

Toronto Detective Greg Forestall told the Toronto Star that even though genital herpes isn’t fatal, there is no cure and it can cause “lifelong suffering.”

I respectfully disagree that herpes causes "lifelong" suffering – while it may be incurable and it may be there a lifetime – the suffering certainly is not.

I prefer to call it life altering.

What do you think? Should failing to reveal herpes to sex partners be a punishable crime?


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