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Op-Ed: Grievous bodily sex – man gaoled for giving lover herpes

By Alexander Baron     Aug 17, 2011 in Crime
Northampton - A man who gave his girlfriend herpes has ended up in gaol in a new twist to an old story that goes back to the early Twentieth Century.
When William Congreve made his classic comment about Hell having no fury like a woman scorned, he might have had Cara Lee in mind, because after her lover gave her a “social disease” she went to the police, and he ended up first in the dock, and then in clink. At Northampton Crown Court he was given a 14 month sentence by Judge Michael Fowler after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm.
A case like this had to make the headlines, and the sentence has been attacked by among others Dr Colm O’Mahoney, sexual health consultant at the Countess of Chester Hospital, who said: “Being sent to prison for 14 months for passing on herpes simplex is like being sent down for ten years for a parking offence” asking if children would now be prosecuted for giving their friends chickenpox, he added “Most people who have genital herpes don’t know it because, even if they do get recurrences, it is such a trivial genital infection that they don’t notice it.”
This appears to be the point, David Golding did know he had the infection, and not only didn’t tell his lover but denied having it after she confronted him. The analogy with chickenpox cuts no ice, especially as this currently incurable disease is nowhere near as trivial as the good doctor would have us believe.
Interestingly, this sad tale has some quaint historical and literary antecedents. In his classic Curses! Broiled Again! The Hottest Urban Legends Going, folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand relates the case of AIDS Mary, a woman who in one version of the story is picked up by a divorcee in a singles bar, and after their one night stand he finds her gone, and the words WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF AIDS! scrawled across his bathroom mirror.
The story of AIDS Mary is said to have run throughout the 1980s, and to be reminiscent of Bed No. 29, a story by Guy de Maupassant from 1884, of a woman who wilfully spread syphilis – then incurable – a story that was not new even then. Sadly, if this tale began as fiction - like Big Brother and the plan to implant microchips in the backs of all our necks – it grew legs and walked into the real world, as with the well-documented case of Typhoid Mary, and in recent years there have, sadly, been a number of cases of both men and women who have been convicted of wilfully spreading sexual diseases, and also some similar cases which are both bizarre and striking.
Three months ago, a man was sentenced to 6-12 months imprisonment for “assaulting two police officers with his AIDS-infected blood” coincidentally by a Northampton County judge – in the United States, not in Britain. Then there was a truly bizarre case in Libya in which five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were convicted of infecting more than four hundred children with AIDS. And perhaps the most infamous case of all, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment which did not actually involve people being infected, but duped some six hundred poor black sharecroppers into believing they were being treated in order to study the progression of the disease. This went on for forty years, and caused a storm when what had happened finally came to light.
Having said all that, David Golding has only himself to blame for his predicament. In the first place he should have been honest with Miss Lee; in the second place, rather than plead guilty, he should have pleaded not guilty and as far as possible ensured he had a jury made up of young men like himself and/or older “respectable” women. His may be a novel conviction, but as one wit commented, he should be safe in the prison shower!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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