Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What If?

Scenario: You find out that this person is HIV positive. Also, you find out that this person is bent on infecting others; he feels his life has already ended, so might as well drag others down with him in the process. You’ve tried to reason with him, but he refuses to listen to reason.

What would you do? What can you do?

I asked those questions because it is not the first time that I’ve heard of stories, whispered mostly, of HIV-positive people who willfully do not disclose their status and engage in unsafe sex with different partners. Why they do it, one can only guess. Some say it’s a form of revenge. Others posit that they are on a self-destruct mission and are bent on bringing people down with them. Whatever their reasons are, the only thing you’re sure of is that they are committed to spreading the virus via unprotected sex.

I know that it is against the law to disclose someone else’s HIV-positive status without that person’s consent. So if you report him to the police, can you be sued even if your intention is to stop them from spreading the virus?

And then there’s the question of the “victims” of this guy. If they agreed to engage in unsafe sex, aren’t they also partially responsible for not protecting themselves? Even if they were told an outright lie (“I’m safe, I’m HIV-negative”), they should know better than to just accept at face-value a claim made by someone whom they’ve met for the first time.

So, what would you do? What can you do?


Désolé Boy said...

I'll say it again, that's why abstinence is still the best protection no matter how unrealistic it may sound to many.
But all I know is that there is such a thing as reinfection so that HIV poz trying to infect everyone must be careful. For all he/she knows, instead of him/her taking in another victim it is him/her that's actually the real victim.

Will said...

That is just plain selfish!

By the way, this is the first time I found out about a law that prohibits us to disclose a person's HIV status to others. So meron nga talagang dilemma rito.

Might as well consult with a lawyer friend before acting.

Fickle Cattle said...

Joel, it's not against the law to disclose someone else's HIV-positive status unless you are a person who handles the medical records of the HIV infected person(i.e. the doctor, lab technician, etc.).

Here's the provision in the AIDS law:

Sec. 30. Medical confidentiality. — All health professionals, medical instructors, workers, employers, recruitment agencies, insurance companies, data encoders, and other custodians of any medical record, file, data, or test results are directed to strictly observe confidentiality in the handling of all medical information, particularly the identity and status of persons with HIV.

So, legally, nothing is stopping you from warning others. I would say that, morally, it would be your obligation to do so.

Fickle Cattle

Fickle Cattle said...

Also, I'd tell the person, and the police. I'm pretty sure you can charge the guy with attempted homicide (or homicide, if someone he infected dies because of AIDS) through reckless imprudence.

Fickle Cattle

rudeboy said...

I think the important consideration here,
joel, is intent.

If, indeed, this HIV+ person (or persons) is "bent on infecting others," and that after one has tried to reason with him, they refuse to listen to reason - then that is clearly intent, and I would consider his HIV status as a potential murder weapon.

In short, since he is willfully and maliciously hell-bent on spreading the disease to others, he becomes a threat to society. In this case, legal or not, disclosing someone's HIV status becomes a matter of self-defense, not only for one's self, but for the greater community at large. It's like outing gay-hating closeted bigots, especially those in the church and government: a matter of self-preservation.

I'm the last person to want to spark a witch hunt - one that the local clergy and grandstanding politicos would only be too happy to pounce on in the name of all that is true and good and moral and blahblahblah. But yes, Joel, something needs to be done, and we in the gay community need to police our own ranks, lest we be policed from the outside.

What can we do, you ask? Frankly, I don't know. I suppose one can surreptitiously spread the word that So-And-So is a willing and vengeful infecter (if that's even a word). But yes, this is a very slippery slope indeed.

I do not pretend to understand the despair a Poz person must feel at times, nor do I begrudge their need to lash out at the perceived unfairness of life. However, it is a common mistake to attribute saintly qualities to those who suffer. Sometimes, those who suffer simply suffer. And for them to spread their suffering onto innocents (and I use the term loosely here) negates any sympathy I might have had for their plight.

Aaaaaannnddd let the floodgates open.

Rygel said...

legally you can't do anything. even doctor's can't do anything about it, i think. but we can be creative and let those at risk of becoming 'victims' know

joelmcvie said...

Fickle Cattle is a lawyer. It's good that he pointed out the law. So given that, we can actually report him to the police.

If there are any other lawyers out there who can verify and/or refute what FC said, please do so.

imongerz said...

although it is true that patient-doctor confidentiality should be upheld, medical confidentiality can be breached should there be any threat of the said patient to himself or to society.

Darc Diarist said...

i like what rudeboy said, we need to police our own ranks...

Puzzie said...

well, if someone says "I'm safe, I'm HIV negative" dapat ka ng matakot. hehehe.

12th said...

I quite agree that there's a moral obligation to inform. It's for the greater good.

BUT, AIDS Law's Section 30 alone does not give a person (not covered by the confidentiality) protection from legal retaliation:

First, I don't think there's any provision in the law that gives concerned citizens the right or obligation to report about another person's HIV/AIDS status, even if he's deliberately infecting others (ghastly, I know, but only a positive provision can serve as blanket protection).

Second, the infected person can still find in the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws a trove of weapons with which to harass concerned citizens (libel, etc.; he's in a self-destruct, nothing-to-lose mode).

Third, the infected person may also sue for abuse of rights, damages, et cetera under the New Civil Code.

Not to discourage those well-intentioned citizens, but I just want them to be able to weigh the pros and cons and their options.

One possible option for those victimized by this person: charge him in court for attempted/frustrated murder, damages, etc. This will "publicize" the incident since, I bet, the media will have a feast on it. Besides, criminal cases are generally considered public records. And I don't think the infected person can battle trial by publicity---no one has, unless he's also been infected with an armor of Teflon like Kris Aquino (the Chlamydia and Joey Marquez contagion).


Kiks said...

thanks, joel. well, my two-cents on this would be...

wear glove at all times. assume everyone is positive or has hepatitis c. and if you cannot take it any longer and want to take the glove off, you know the risks and you know you're taking it.

ignorance is bliss until you find out.

(i would not report him though.)