hiv- October 4, 2007 5:34 PM   Subscribe

yay
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 to MetaFilter-Related at 5:34 PM (113 comments total)

(It should be clearly and emphatically noted that Jessamyn was posting an update for an anonymous poster.)
posted by Dave Faris at 5:51 PM on October 4, 2007


Oh my word. I missed that Q the first time around.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:55 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, yay indeed. What an ugly situation that is. I'm glad that, so far, everyhing's fine.
posted by lekvar at 5:58 PM on October 4, 2007


It's only fine for the poster - his boyfriend is still fighting the infection...
posted by growabrain at 6:03 PM on October 4, 2007


Any chance this could get moved into the "what ever happened to that Asker" thread below this one?
posted by desuetude at 6:07 PM on October 4, 2007


Yeah, I hope the other guy makes a total recovery, ideally in a prison infirmary.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:08 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was almost the first AskMefi question ever posted by an actual murder victim.

Instead, it's now yet another AskMefi question where someone who has been treated horribly by his/her significant other decides to stick fingers in his/her ears, ignores the community's adamant advice to DTMFA, and instead stands by his/her man/woman.

I suppose that's progress, of a sort.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:08 PM on October 4, 2007


Instead, it's now yet another AskMefi question where someone who has been treated horribly by his/her significant other decides to stick fingers in his/her ears, ignores the community's adamant advice to DTMFA, and instead stands by his/her man/woman.

It sounds like the poster is still trying to sort out his feelings toward the MF. While the answer is clear to us, maybe he just needs a little time to see it.
posted by Airhen at 6:11 PM on October 4, 2007


(It should be clearly and emphatically noted that Jessamyn was posting an update for an anonymous poster.)

Whoa, man, was I confused for a second there.
posted by graventy at 6:12 PM on October 4, 2007


growabrain, I understand that there's still someone out there suffereing from HIV infection. However, if the OP's conclusion is correct, that individual is extremely lucky to still be breathing and will get very littl sympathy from me.
posted by lekvar at 6:14 PM on October 4, 2007


hate to rain on the parade, but if the OP is negative now, he might not be in three months time, since this is the approximate time period between infection & having that infection show up in the tests.

just sayin'.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:36 PM on October 4, 2007


It's been a nailbiting few days waiting to hear back from the OP on that one. I think he's very aware of both the problems with his relationship and with test results at such an early stage but for thos eof us following along in the thread, it was "big sigh of relief" time at least in the short term.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:48 PM on October 4, 2007


I'm glad anon seems to be OK (my oldest brother died from complications arising from AIDS, it's not a great way to go).

I agree he needs to dump the dude, but all of us probably recognize what the logical and correct thing to do is not necessarily what feels like the right thing to do, and is rarely the easiest thing to do. Good luck, anon.
posted by maxwelton at 6:59 PM on October 4, 2007


I want to go in that thread and scream at him to get the hell out of that relationship. But that's not what the thread's about, and jessamyn says that he's aware of the fact that it's bad to date people who lie to you about really important things such as contagious diseases that can kill you. So I guess I won't.

But oh man... thank goodness he's all right. I missed that question before. Just plain chilling. Poor guy. Feel happy, anonymous, and just do what you have to do.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:09 PM on October 4, 2007


Holy shit. Sidebar this, now.
posted by Skorgu at 7:20 PM on October 4, 2007


That was almost the first AskMefi question ever posted by an actual murder victim.

As horrible as what the boyfriend did to the poster is, this attitude has much more to do with hysteria and stigma than it does with any understanding of HIV disease, or indeed, with infectious disease in general. (If you infect your grandmother with the flu accidentally, and she dies, is that manslaughter?)
posted by OmieWise at 7:28 PM on October 4, 2007


I kind of admire the level-headed people who advocate legal action, because all I can think is that if this happened to me I'd be barricading us in and waving around blunt objects until he explained why.

I don't get it. I know men generally think that personal time is better sans condom, but surely not so much better than you're willing to lie and risk the health and life of someone you seem to care about?

I'm very glad the OP is okay. I hope he finds a way to deal with this that makes sense to him.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 7:29 PM on October 4, 2007


OmnieWise, stop fucking your grandmother, even "accidentally."
posted by ibmcginty at 7:31 PM on October 4, 2007 [8 favorites]


hate to rain on the parade, but if the OP is negative now, he might not be in three months time

True, but they've been dating for 5 months, so chances are if the OP had beed infected it'd be showing up by now.
posted by item at 7:34 PM on October 4, 2007


This story is why I would love to be able to add questions to my "Recent Activities" page. Because I wanted to watch that thread even though I had nothing to add to it.

Watch list plz kthxbye.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:45 PM on October 4, 2007


All I have to say is:

YAY
posted by zia at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2007


Sidebar this, now.

No, this doesn't have any edifying or redeeming qualities. To sidebar this would be to invite gawpers to the car accident. Surely a sidebar item should have more going for it than sheer prurient interest.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:17 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


“As horrible as what the boyfriend did to the poster is, this attitude has much more to do with hysteria and stigma than it does with any understanding of HIV disease, or indeed, with infectious disease in general.”

Excuse me? They have been having unsafe safe under the presumption that both of them are HIV negative. The boyfriend knows he is HIV positive and he's regularly fucking someone else in the ass without using a condom. This is as close as you can get to deliberately infecting someone without deliberately infecting someone.

The reaction here isn't about stigma and hysteria. The reaction here is against someone who is being at least as irresponsible as someone who drives falling-down drunk while lying to his passenger (who has a policy of not riding with a drunk driver and always asks) by faking a breathalyzer test and saying “See? I'm not drunk. I wouldn't risk your life, I love you.”

In other words, this is a bad, bad person. He'll be lucky (like that lying drunk) if he somehow dies before he takes someone with him.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:25 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Omie,
With respect and affection, I think you are missing something. According to the account, the person's partner was treating himself for HIV and not letting him (the poster) know that and carrying on a sexual relationship regardless. It's not the same thing as being infected and not knowing it and everyone finding out at the same time. It's incredibly fucked up.

No, this doesn't have any edifying or redeeming qualities. To sidebar this would be to invite gawpers to the car accident. Surely a sidebar item should have more going for it than sheer prurient interest.

I think there are a lot of people that read about this and would like to know that dude is ok, but I also agree that it's not in the spirit of other items that are sidebarred.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:31 PM on October 4, 2007


Wow, I am so sorry for what you have been through Jessamyn.

j/k Thank you so much for facilitating the post. Glad to see a follow up to a question that stuck with me. Glad to here the OP is okay, although I hope he still goes to get tested every 3 - 6 months. He is not really out of the woods yet. And I sure-as-hell hope he gets rid of that dick (pardon the pun).
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 8:32 PM on October 4, 2007


No, this doesn't have any edifying or redeeming qualities.

Agreed; still can't figure out why that mushroom thing is up there, besides create the illusion that they're not trying to showcase the 'Best Book For Laypeople' AskMe1.

All the best to the OP, but I don't really know what this MeTa'll achieve besides giving people a chance to make comments about the Asker's SO that would get deleted from the Green2.

1Joke
2Yeah, I know, heartless monster, etc.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:50 PM on October 4, 2007


That was almost the first AskMefi question ever posted by an actual murder victim.

Without in any way condoning the OP's partner's shitty deed, or minimizing the seriousness of HIV infection, I think the OMG MURDERER rhetoric is over the top.

HIV is not an immediate death sentence -- not in the way, for example, Ebola is. Thanks to anti-retrovirals, for many many people, HIV is a serious but manageable chronic illness.

I agree with Omiewise that overdramatizing the effects of HIV infection is about the hysteria and stigma attendant on what people still think of a "gay disease."

And I think it's counterproductive, in that it breeds the kind of fear that makes people too scared and fatalistic to take care of themselves.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:50 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always feel guilty when an ex-smoker begs to bum a cigarette from me, and I give them one. Now I know why. Because I am A MURDERER.

Maybe. If they eventually die of lung cancer.

I'm joking. Sort of. I'm glad the anon poster isn't HIV positive and all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:01 PM on October 4, 2007


still can't figure out why that mushroom thing is up there

Oh, I totally thought that was sidebar-worthy. But I cook with mushrooms a lot, so ymmv.
posted by mediareport at 9:03 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


ottereroticist, you're making fabulous points about HIV stigma, but I think they're misplaced here. There is no doubt whatsoever that AIDS is a life-threatening condition, and knowingly exposing someone to *repeated* possible infections and lying to them about it does indeed qualify as life-threatening violence.
posted by mediareport at 9:06 PM on October 4, 2007


I hope the other guy makes a total recovery, ideally in a prison infirmary.

I'll drink to that.

If you infect your grandmother with the flu accidentally, and she dies, is that manslaughter?

I would say yes, if you know you're sick and still deliberately decide to spit in her mouth.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:22 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or could prompt life-threatening violence.
posted by Tuwa at 9:23 PM on October 4, 2007


It's always good when someone doesn't have AIDS.
posted by dhammond at 10:00 PM on October 4, 2007


Wow, I am so sorry for what you have been through Jessamyn.

Um, jessamyn was just forwarding a followup from the original, anonymous poster.

Though I must say I was slightly startled by the first sentence of it myself, since I was seeing the reply without the original context. Jessamyn, putting the text you're relaying in blockquotes, italics or both to make it distinct from your own words would make it a lot clearer in slightly unusual situations like this when someone ends up reading it first.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:28 PM on October 4, 2007


Wow. I somehow missed the original question and... just... wow. And I really don't see how the infected guy's actions are any different than slipping a little bit of arsenic in your spouse's tea every day. It can't even be blamed on ignorance - the guy saw a doctor, and that doctor had to have discussed the risks with him.

I mean, WTF? W.T.F.
posted by katillathehun at 10:36 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


George, you seem to have missed the little "j/k" boobsalot added after his comment. He knows it wasn't jessamyn who was involved.
posted by mediareport at 10:55 PM on October 4, 2007


>Wow, I am so sorry for what you have been through Jessamyn.

>Um, jessamyn was just forwarding a followup from the original, anonymous poster.


Yes, but B(oYo)BIES immediately followed that up with the UNIVERSALLY UNDERSTOOD 'j/k' which I didn't understand at all for a minute, until I realized (I think) that it means 'I am joking'.

*glares over bifocals at the LOL people*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on October 4, 2007


Or, what mediareport said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:59 PM on October 4, 2007


I agree with Omiewise that overdramatizing the effects of HIV infection...

And those effects are, what, exactly, again? Unless the AskMefi poster is one of the very rare and lucky souls with a homozygous dose of the CCR5-delta32 mutation, and/or an unlimited personal budget for years of anti-viral and supportive therapies, including all the ones his possibly-non-existent medical insurance may not chose to cover -- well, yes, then calling what his partner did to him "attempted murder" would be technically untrue and somewhat hyperbolic. Then what his partner did to him would merely be horrific betrayal and breach of trust.

...except for the part where it would still fulfill that pesky legal definition for "murder" in several states and countries, but sure, let's ignore that...
posted by Asparagirl at 11:06 PM on October 4, 2007


Thanks to anti-retrovirals

Thanks to "pre-existing conditions"...
posted by dirigibleman at 12:03 AM on October 5, 2007


Excuse me? They have been having unsafe safe under the presumption that both of them are HIV negative.

So has the advice for people engaging in high risk sex changed since all the success with the retrovirals? Because traditionally, all of the advice I've ever seen has been that unless you absolutely *know* your partners HIV status -- and that's virtually an impossibility -- then the onus is on YOU to protect yourself from being infected by insisting on safer sex practices. And as we're talking anal sex here, they weren't exactly trying for a baby. There's no reason whatsoever not to use condoms in a situation like this.

OP's partner was clearly in the wrong here, but the OP has responsibilities to himself as well. Unless somebody is being tested regularly and is absolutely monogamous, you really can't rely on what they tell you about their HIV status. That was, IIRC, one of the reasons why many activists argued that these acts of so-called 'deliberate' infection should be treated as a misdemeanour -- because people need to take responsibility for their own protection, and not just rely on what somebody else is telling them about their HIV status.

If the OP's partner is guilty of attempted murder, then the OP should also be regarded as someone with suicidal tendencies.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:39 AM on October 5, 2007


“If the OP's partner is guilty of attempted murder, then the OP should also be regarded as someone with suicidal tendencies.”

Whether the questioner was foolish or not in no way mitigates his boyfriend's assault. Moral responsibilities like this are not zero sum.

Is a woman foolish if she gets wasted at a fraternity party and passes out in someone's bedroom? Yes, she's foolish. But if she's assaulted, she is in no way responsible for her assaulter's decision to rape her.

One's own responsibility to oneself is independent of other peoples' responsibilities for their own actions.

Furthermore, the claim that no one can ever be certain of someone else's HIV negative status and that therefore one must forever engage in exclusively safe sex else be labeled “suicidal” is an example of hysterical overreaction with a subtext of anti-homosexual bias. We are not talking about casual one night stands here, we're talking about a long-term “monogamous” relationship. All such relationships inherently require trust and all involve risk.

While taking an HIV test together, sharing the results, and waiting an allotted time before ceasing the use of condoms is wise, it is certainly not foolproof. Far more likely and common than dishonesty about test results is simple infidelity. Female partners in long-term monogamous heterosexual relationships cannot be certain they are not exposed to as much risk as this questioner has been. If you have ever engaged in unsafe sex with a female partner and thought it a reasonable choice for her to make, then you have no standing with which to label the questioner “suicidal”.

Being HIV positive today is certainly not a death sentence. But calling it a manageable chronic illness with the implication that it is comparable to, say, herpes is insulting to the millions of people who live with this illness. It is life-threatening; and although most people diagnosed these days HIV positive live for years without symptoms, some still develop AIDS within a short span of time and die. Even when good health is maintained and AIDS doesn't develop, this still is an illness that requires large amounts of medical management, cost, and lifestyle changes. Discovering one is HIV positive is a profound and terrifying experience. Recklessly inflicting a high risk upon someone else for this illness via deliberate lies and abuse of trust is a form of assault, pure and simple.

I earlier compared the boyfriend's decision to that of a drunk driver. What I didn't take into consideration is that a drunk driver has the technical moral excuse that his judgment is impaired. We don't legally allow that excuse for practical reasons, but it's arguably valid. Someone who knows they are HIV positive—aware of this to the degree to which they are actively involved in medical management of HIV—and who lies to other people about this obviously is, in contrast to the drunk, very much in full capacity of his moral faculties (as much as anyone else is, anyway). One can't even imagine the excuse of self-delusion given the medication. The boyfriend has not only lied about his HIV negative status, he has lied about the nature of the medication he is taking. This isn't a single incident, it's an ongoing behavior, a pattern of dishonesty and the deliberate endangering the life of someone else. If the questioner becomes HIV positive and later develops AIDS and dies, then while the boyfriend's actions would arguably not be murder, they would arguably be manslaughter. Absent this outcome, his actions are at least reckless endangerment of another person's life (with the aggravating factor of personal gain thereupon).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:03 AM on October 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yeah, don't confuse my comment on the OMG IT"S MURDER reaction with any sort of condoning or softening of what the BF did. The boyfriend is a horrible horrible person. HIV is also a very difficult and dangerous chronic disease with which to live. But continuing to treat it as death in a condom is certainly related to hysteria about HIV per se. It simply isn't that. It's instructive to examine our reactions to other communicable and potentially deadly diseases to see whether or not our reactions in this case are prompted by a response to the situation rather than to the bugbear of HIV. I'm still curious about whether or not infecting grandma with the flu constitutes murder, or whether the fact grandma isn't a scary gay man somehow mitigates the effect.

As far as the issues of treatment go: I work in an HIV clinic, so I have some sense of what's involved. While this particular story sounds horrible, the fact is that this happens all the time, I treat several people a year (up to 10) who tell a comparable story of being, essentially, deliberately infected by someone who knew that they had HIV. Often the shitbag is already on ARVs as in this case. Since I work in a clinic that only provides care to people without insurance and with very little income, and our care is top-notch and all HIV meds and ancillary meds are fully covered with gov't money, I dispute the notion that because care is expensive this is still some sort of murder. If you think that, even if your state is not as well set up as mine, you don't know what you're talking about. I do see plenty of medical conditions from which poor people are in danger of dying because they don't have money for treatment, but HIV is not one of them.

And, since it's something I have to do every day, I wonder what the IT'S MURDER crowd would have me tell folks just infected who break down in my office and start to talk about suicide. Should I just tell them to get on with it because it's gonna happen anyway? I certainly don't sugarcoat the difficulties of living with HIV, but life is filled with difficulties, and although having HIV in part sucks because even otherwise well-meaning people still think of it as THE DREAD DISEASE, and probably THE GAY DISEASE, it really isn't a death sentence or anything like one. It would be as ethically problematic to tell people that they were going to die of HIV (or an OI) simply because they'd been infected as it would be to tell them that HIV is no problem. Both positions are wrong.

I have to reiterate, because incredibly it seems open to question by people reading my previous comment, that there's nothing redeeming in the BFs behavior, and I would love love love to see stricter laws about deliberately putting your partner at risk for being infected with HIV. But to consider this murder is to fail to consider it. Infectious diseases are dangerous and destructive and present in all human society. They are part of the price of society. There are instances where diseases are used as weapons of war and as population control, and certainly one can imagine a disease being used to commit a murder. But when we talk and think about those instances, the particular disease doesn't really matter, not does the manner of its transmission, what matters are the effects. In the reaction to this case I see the opposite being true: the disease and manner of transmission (HE WAS FUCKING HIM IN THE ASS!!1!!AFTER THEY GOT TESTED TOGETHER1!!1!) are arousing disgust and fear, and the fact that HIV is a disease made chronic through treatment, that sometimes leads to death (in the vast majority of cases among people who are not compliant with treatment), is being conveniently overlooked. I don't think the people insisting it's murder (or something like it) are bad-hearted, but I do think that they haven't thought the issue through, and that their reactions are predicated on the stigma that HIV carries in our society.
posted by OmieWise at 4:58 AM on October 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's been a nailbiting few days waiting to hear back from the OP on that one. I think he's very aware of both the problems with his relationship and with test results at such an early stage but for thos eof us following along in the thread, it was "big sigh of relief" time at least in the short term.

Thank you for forwarding the OP's comments to the thread. I'm so very happy for him.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:32 AM on October 5, 2007


If the OP's partner is guilty of attempted murder, then the OP should also be regarded as someone with suicidal tendencies.

What about hetero couples who have unprotected sex, where one partner is secretly an intravenous drug user or has secret relationships?

Why is the monogamous partner considered not suicidal, just because s/he is straight? Major double standard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:35 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


the disease and manner of transmission (HE WAS FUCKING HIM IN THE ASS!!1!!AFTER THEY GOT TESTED TOGETHER1!!1!) are arousing disgust and fear

That's completely ridiculous. You're projecting like mad based on no evidence. Some of us like assfucking just fine, and still think you're on another planet on this one. heatherann's recent comment in the AskMe thread is a much better approach to the intent question than this nonsense.

I would love love love to see stricter laws about deliberately putting your partner at risk for being infected with HIV. But to consider this murder is to fail to consider it.

If you don't see what the boyfriend did as a form of violence, then why would you lovelovelove to see stricter laws against it? You're just playing semantic games here.
posted by mediareport at 5:59 AM on October 5, 2007


If you don't see what the boyfriend did as a form of violence, then why would you lovelovelove to see stricter laws against it?

Um, I don't see what the BF did as ATTEMPTED MURDER. I never said or suggested that I didn't see it as a form of violence. I do. I see it as a form of assault.

much better approach to the intent question than this nonsense

I haven't been talking about intent at all.

I think heatherann's post is a good one, too, but I do have to point out that the first sentence of her email contains a factual error that is both instructive of her level of knowledge and should not be allowed to stand: Trizivir is a decent HIV medication, but is not recommended as a first line stand alone treatment for HIV. Search ACTG and Trizivir. It used to be used as such, and one of the things I thought when I read the OP's question a few days ago was that his partner was almost certainly either not seeing a very good doctor or has not been followed very closely, since it's been a couple of years since the recommendations against continuing Trizivir alone have been in effect.
posted by OmieWise at 6:05 AM on October 5, 2007


It's always good when someone doesn't have AIDS.

Just to be a pedant, HIV != AIDS. Yes, HIV causes AIDS but contracting the HIV virus does not automatically cause you to have AIDS.
posted by jmd82 at 6:15 AM on October 5, 2007


(Actually, I have no idea what heatherann's level of knowledge about this is, and her comment is spot on and very good. My correction about Trizivir is separate from that.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:32 AM on October 5, 2007


Jessamyn is a gay man? I didn't see that coming.
posted by chunking express at 6:34 AM on October 5, 2007


This thread's making me sad, and a little angry.

I'm with OmieWise and ottereroticist (geez, that's hard to type) on this. We don't know what's up with Anon's partner, or what his motivations were/are, but I'll take a wild guess and say that he's swimming in the deepest part of denial. Denial allows people to make all kinds of fucked up decisions, and plays a big part in the loop that includes self-hate, depression, and destructive behaviors. I'm absolutely not saying that someone who does what Anon's partner has done should be coddled and told "There, there, honey", but I can absolutely guarantee that shouting "Burn him!" will not change his behavior or help him understand what he's done and why/how to stop, nor does it contribute to lessening the stigma around HIV.

Anon, if you're reading this thread, I'm glad you're ok (do get retested down the line to make sure, of course), and I'm very sorry this happened to you. Being lied to by someone you love is a hard and awful thing. I'll be thinking about you.
posted by rtha at 6:56 AM on October 5, 2007


Unless somebody is being tested regularly and is absolutely monogamous, you really can't rely on what they tell you about their HIV status. . . . If the OP's partner is guilty of attempted murder, then the OP should also be regarded as someone with suicidal tendencies.

Apply this to the context of a married straight couple. Is my wife "suicidal" if I don't get regular HIV testing and I don't use a condom? If so, I can't even begin to comprehend your position. If not, then I agree with BP that your argument relies upon a double-standard that treats straight and gay couples differently.
posted by brain_drain at 7:12 AM on October 5, 2007


I haven't been talking about intent at all.

I know, that's part of the problem. Instead, you've been telling the folks who say "repeated assault + lying about it just might = attempted murder" that they're obviously disgusted by gays and assfucking.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on October 5, 2007


it really isn't a death sentence or anything like one.

Of course it is. Without treatment, it's almost 100% fatal. With lots and lots of expensive treatment, it can be managed, but if they ever stop treatment or if their insurance company refuses to pay for the drugs anymore, they will die. And sometimes they'll die anyway, even with treatment.

If you are pushed from a fifty story building, the fact that you can maybe catch a flagpole on the way down and save yourself doesn't change attempted murder into assault.
posted by Malor at 7:40 AM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Instead, you've been telling the folks who say "repeated assault + lying about it just might = attempted murder" that they're obviously disgusted by gays and assfucking.

No, no I haven't. Try to put your outrage at the situation and at me aside for a moment and go back and read the bulk of my comments. What I've said is that since HIV=/=death, therefore exposing someone to infection=/=attempted murder. I've also questioned why in the undeniable face of the former, the latter still seems hard for some people to accept. The issue of intent is moot when we're trying to determine whether or not this is murder or attempted murder, since even the result of "success" on the part of the BF would not result in death!

Given my experience with dealing every day with people who are getting tested and diagnosed with HIV, I have, indeed, made some assumptions about why the myth that HIV is a death sentence seems to persist. I'm honestly surprised that you think that stigma and hysteria are not contributing to the reactions in this thread about the potential consequences. The rhetoric is far enough from the reality that I have a hard time understanding how anything else (other than ignorance) could be the contributing factor. Part of the reason I've responded in depth here is because I've been trying to address any potential ignorance.

I agree that HIV is life threatening, but I think there are many life threatening things in which people engage (and force other people to engage) that we don't call "attempted murder." I also disagree with rtha, I don't particularly care what the complex psychological motivations of the BF are in this case, nor do I think they excuse anything. I think the BF is the worst kind of asshole. I continue to be dismayed that not buying into hysteria about HIV disease would somehow make it seem like I condone the BFs actions in any way.

(As an aside, and because I've repeatedly made recourse to my professional experience on this matter, I'd like to be clear that I am not a medical doctor. I run an HIV treatment program in an inner city. I'm routinely involved in, and privy to, medical information for the ~450 HIV+ folks we treat, approximately 40% of whom have AIDS. I approve all medication purchases and sub-specialty referrals for our patients, so I know about all the medical care they receive. My own practice is in psychotherapy, and I see ~100 patients a year for intermittent psychotherapy relating to HIV diagnosis and disease.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:44 AM on October 5, 2007


I'll say it again: There is no doubt whatsoever that AIDS is a life-threatening condition, and knowingly exposing someone to *repeated* possible infections and lying to them about it does indeed qualify as life-threatening violence.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 AM on October 5, 2007


Without treatment, it's almost 100% fatal.

So is strep throat.
posted by Miko at 7:53 AM on October 5, 2007


There is no doubt whatsoever that AIDS is a life-threatening condition, and knowingly exposing someone to *repeated* possible infections and lying to them about it does indeed qualify as life-threatening violence.

Which doesn't obviate my point. Speeding is also life threatening, flu is also life threatening, chickenpox is also life threatening, TB is also life threatening. Are you prepared to admit that when you speed with your friends in the car you're attempting to murder them?
posted by OmieWise at 7:59 AM on October 5, 2007


I need to correct that. The conditions strep infections can lead to (scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, among others) have historically caused peak mortality ranging from 30%-46%. But still.
posted by Miko at 8:01 AM on October 5, 2007


I know this is MeTa and that's what this is for, but it feels weird to be arguing and joking about the semantics of some dude's real (scary, harrowing) situation. I know, I know, why don't I go cry about it. Just saying.

/inappropriate MeTa sensitivity
posted by sneakin at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2007


So is strep throat.

Gosh, you're right. Lord knows you can't cure strep throat... you're doomed to a lifetime of medical care.

What an intensely inane comment.
posted by Malor at 8:31 AM on October 5, 2007


I also disagree with rtha, I don't particularly care what the complex psychological motivations of the BF are in this case, nor do I think they excuse anything.

Yeah, I was afraid I'd come off sounding like I was trying to excuse his behavior, which was not my intent, and was probably a consequence of PCP (pre-caffeine posting).
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2007


it's almost 100% fatal.

Just like life.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:42 AM on October 5, 2007


(If you infect your grandmother with the flu accidentally, and she dies, is that manslaughter?)

Well, if you lie to her about your fever and body aches and then lick her spoon right before she uses it, then maybe, yeah.

But I agree people are exercising their particular HIV paranoia, horror, and fear here. My generation sure had a lot of that drilled into us growing up.

I swear the fear of HIV is greater than the fear of death itself. And people who race dragsters for a living and moonlight as trapeze artists still freak out at the thought of shaking hands with anyone HIV+.

Hysteria is the word.
posted by scarabic at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2007


What an intensely inane comment.

As inane as pretending that there's no treatment for HIV?
posted by OmieWise at 8:49 AM on October 5, 2007


As inane as pretending that there's no treatment for HIV?

Certainly more insensitive. Comparing strep throat to HIV is a slap in the face to anyone with HIV.

And no one is pretending that there's no treatment for HIV. But there's certainly no cure at this time, and it has strong potential to turn into something not only deadly, but absolutely agonizing in the process. You can't honestly hear an account of an HIV-positive man knowingly exposing his partner to such a risk and say, "Oh come on, guys. They have TREATMENTS." Can you? It may be cool to do that in a thread about the latest OutrageTM, but this isn't one of those threads.
posted by katillathehun at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2007


Omie, that would indeed be inane. Fortunately, I didn't do that.

Again: HIV is a death sentence. With treatment, it becomes a suspended sentence.... but at extremely high cost: financial, physical, and social.

Look, I'm as pro-gay rights as anyone, hell, probably more so. But I call a spade a spade. From what you say here, you're upset that gay people are treated poorly because of HIV. But it appears that, instead of attacking the bad conclusions, you're trying to do a propaganda job on the severity of AIDS.

Attack the bad conclusions.... don't try to obfuscate the reality of that terrible disease.
posted by Malor at 9:11 AM on October 5, 2007


Attack the bad conclusions.... don't try to obfuscate the reality of that terrible disease.

I have, and I haven't. I don't think you can have it both ways, that HIV is a death sentence without treatment, but that it's inane to point out that this is true of many things. Were this 1990 I wouldn't be taking the position I'm taking. But this isn't 1990, and we have very effective ARVs to treat HIV. It continues to be a horrible disease that I wouldn't wish on anyone, but in the USA treatment is, for the most part, readily available and largely financed by the government in the cases where insurance won't cover it. I'm not making light of anything when I say that there are other significantly more problematic and deadly diseases for uninsured poor people than HIV. (Heart disease is a great example, there isn't a lot of public health money around for treating heart disease, or diabetes, or pancreatic cancer.)

It is possible to have a conversation in which we condemn the actions of the fuckwit BF from the original question without pretending that HIV is still as untreatable as it was in the 80s.
posted by OmieWise at 9:32 AM on October 5, 2007


I have, and I haven't. I don't think you can have it both ways, that HIV is a death sentence without treatment, but that it's inane to point out that this is true of many things.

I said that it was inane to compare strep throat with HIV. It is inane, to such an overwhelming degree that I can't believe you're actually arguing on that side.

You can survive with HIV, but it's incredibly expensive to do so. You are doing a disservice to the world by minimizing that disease. it doesn't go away. The fact that the symptoms can be suppressed does not make it any less terrible, or any less contagious.

Your pushing this agenda means that people who listen to you may not be as careful as they should be during sex. Your arguments, if taken up widely, are going to kill people.

"Safe sex" is the right answer, not "HIV isn't a death sentence", because that's not true.

Once you've been pushed off that building and grab the flagpole, you are stuck there, scrabbling, the rest of your life; you can't ever be healthy again.

And you will forever be dangerous to have sex with.
posted by Malor at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can't honestly hear an account of an HIV-positive man knowingly exposing his partner to such a risk and say, "Oh come on, guys. They have TREATMENTS."

But Omiewise's knowledgeable and nuanced response is not a reaction to the original incident. What he's criticizing is the HIV INFECTION = MURDER rhetoric in this thread.

Seriously, people. Pull down your strawmen and throw them on the bonfire, because you're not really responding to what Omiewise is saying.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2007


Oh and the big difference between AIDS and the other diseases you mention -- the other diseases aren't contagious.

You are, in my opinion, being incredibly irresponsible in pushing this view to people. Once someone already has AIDS, maybe your spin is useful, but for the uninfected gay community, what you're saying is pure poison.
posted by Malor at 9:59 AM on October 5, 2007


(actually: uninfected community period: it's obviously not confined to homosexual men.)
posted by Malor at 10:00 AM on October 5, 2007


Comparing strep throat to HIV is a slap in the face to anyone with HIV

It depends how you're comparing them. I was suggesting a comparison on the single point of whether a disease is fatal when untreated. Strep throat can be fatal when untreated, as it was for the tens of thousands who died of scarlet and rheumatic fever epidemics...until the development of penicillin.

I don't intend to minimize the severity of HIV/AIDS in any way, but the argument that the disease would be fatal if untreated doesn't distinguish this complex from many other infectious diseases (how many of you know of an older person who has died of pneumonia?). I hope everyone here can see that reactions casting HIV/AIDS as a horrific harbinger of early death do not support or assist people actually living with the disease or people who love them. It is to be taken seriously but not hyperbolically.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on October 5, 2007


Strep is curable. Did you miss that part? HIV can't be cured, only held at bay with constant treatment.
posted by Malor at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2007


the other diseases aren't contagious.

Chickenpox, tb, and the flu are contagious. OmieWise has specifically been comparing HIV to other life-threatening and communicable diseases.
posted by occhiblu at 10:04 AM on October 5, 2007


Strep throat, influenza, pneumonia, not contagious?

If you think that, you're not in a good position to comment on other contagious diseases.

what you're saying is pure poison.

How can being well informed ever be poisonous? The clearer the perspective, the more knowledge behind the approach, the better.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on October 5, 2007


it doesn't matter to your argument whether or not strep is curable, Malor. Your argument was that because HIV can result in death, it's somehow more serious than other diseases. The news is that many other diseases, when left untreated, also result in death.
posted by Miko at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2007


HIV is a death sentence.

No HIV is a virus. You're in a strange position of calling a spade something other than a spade, while maintaining all along that you're in fact calling it a spade. It's like you keep saying that 2 + 2 = 4, but you do the rest of your math in base 12. Your metaphors are too strong, and they're guided by something other than expert knowledge, while OmieWise's rejection does constitute expert knowledge.

The question is whether exposing a partner to HIV is assault or attempted murder. It's a legal question, so let's consider some assaults: punching someone in the face, hitting them with a baseball bat, hitting them with your car, and yes, exposing them to a sexually-transmitted disease.

Let's consider some attempted murders: shooting someone in the torso or head after an argument, poisoning a partner, repeatedly stabbing someone, or failed attempts at strangulation.

Most of the assaults listed could lead to death. Sometimes they even do; in those cases, we charge a person with manslaughter rather than murder. Everything depends on intent. Note that the listed murders are all deliberate attempts to end a person's life; the assaults are all deliberate or incautious injuries.

Hurt v. kill. Who here believes that the OP's partner is trying to kill him? Who here thinks that the OP is negligently injuring him in the pursuit of sexual gratification?

This is all very obvious stuff you can learn on Law and Order. So when OmieWise suspects bad faith from people who continually up the charge when it comes to gay men and HIV, he's got to be right that there's something that's short-circuiting your thinking. It can't simply be the case that most of the country doesn't understand the difference between deliberate and negligent injury, or the difference between the intent to kill and the intent to harm. So what do you think it is?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Another argument you make for the exceptionalism of HIV is that it can't be "cured," only managed. That, too, raises comparisons to other infectious diseases in which, even after the infection has passed, there remain impacts which require a lifetime of medical management. For instance, polio, measles, malaria to some extent, brain infections, and eye infections resulting in compromised vision or blindness.
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on October 5, 2007


Your arguments, if taken up widely, are going to kill people.

Actually, the kind of rhetoric you're propounding (unsafe sex = HIV = automatic death sentence) has pretty much been discredited in AIDS prevention circles.

Trying to scare people into safer behavior, especially for those in marginalized communities, can lead to message fatigue, fatalism, and even more unsafe behavior.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:24 AM on October 5, 2007


Your pushing this agenda means that people who listen to you may not be as careful as they should be during sex. Your arguments, if taken up widely, are going to kill people.

"Safe sex" is the right answer, not "HIV isn't a death sentence", because that's not true.


Malor, I think you need to calm down. I haven't been pushing any "agenda" other than that HIV is not a death sentence. It isn't. Anything you think to the contrary is wrong, completely wrong. I've said all along that HIV is a serious disease. You appear to think I mean something other than what I've written.

The comparison with other infectious diseases is indeed instructive. Many infectious disease left untreated are fatal. HIV is one of them, but it is not unique, it is not fatal when treated, it is not Ebola.

None of my comments can be read, rationally, as remotely advocating a lack of personal responsibility or care. I've argued before on this site, in different contexts, that there's an inherent tension in HIV education because convincing people that they should get treated for HIV sometimes comes too close to suggesting that HIV is not serious and dangerous. I continue to dispute that the solution to that problem is to lie about HIV and claim that it's a death sentence.
posted by OmieWise at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2007


wow, i missed this question - thanks for pointing it out.
posted by escher at 10:43 AM on October 5, 2007


But Miko, arguments of the history of medicine aside, you must see that the material reality of treating HIV/AIDS in 2007 is a million miles away from treating strep. The lack of any HIV treatment access in the first place for millions, and the prohibitive expense for millions of others (i.e., for those in the developed world either without insurance or whose insurance won't pay), not to mention the side effects of medication and the need to manage the infection for life, simply don't compare in any meaningful way to a $10 or $20 weeklong course of antibiotics. To me, at least, that's why the analogy just doesn't hold much water.
posted by scody at 11:11 AM on October 5, 2007


scody, of COURSE I do. I was using the strep comparison as a way to show that Malor's attempt to treat HIV exceptionally based largely on its mortality potential if untreated was not a good argument.
posted by Miko at 11:20 AM on October 5, 2007


scody, of COURSE I do. I was using the strep comparison as a way to show that Malor's attempt to treat HIV exceptionally based largely on its mortality potential if untreated was not a good argument.

The best part about Metafilter is how people can be so annoying and pedantic.

No wait, that's not it.
posted by chunking express at 11:38 AM on October 5, 2007


That was uncalled for.
posted by Miko at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2007


If you infect your grandmother with the flu accidentally, and she dies, is that manslaughter?

If you know you have the flu, and you know that if your grandmother gets the flu she'll probably die of it and if your grandmother then actually dies of it (as opposed to say cancer, or getting run over by a bus) then how much of an accident is it really?
posted by juv3nal at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2007


The flu is a poor metaphor, and so is your grandmother. It's more like if you had tuberculosis before there was a cure and you and your best friend went out to a restaurant every week or so and after dinner you always split dessert and shared a fork, with you knowing perfectly well that your deadly tubercular spit would get on the fork but whatever he's your pal, he'll forgive you and if you told him you had consumption, he might make you pay for your own dish of peach cobbler.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:14 PM on October 5, 2007


tuberculosis before there was a cure...shared a fork

Except TB isn't spread by using infected utensils.
posted by OmieWise at 1:34 PM on October 5, 2007


For the love of god stop stop stop with the tortured metaphors, comparisons, and analogies.

And I really hope that that the original poster is not reading this thread anymore. His faith in the decency of humankind would be even more shot.
posted by desuetude at 1:34 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is that even the point, OmieWie? For Pete's sake. Ditto what desuetude said.
posted by katillathehun at 1:43 PM on October 5, 2007


Well, I don't know what your point is, but part of my point is that it's better to have correct medical information on the site.
posted by OmieWise at 1:54 PM on October 5, 2007


And the correct medical information, OmieWise, is that HIV will likely kill you, sooner or later.

Taking an action which you know is likely to result in the death of another human being is, with few exceptions, covered under homicide statutes. While I personally think it should be Murder 1, the reality is that the more legally appropriate law would be Criminally Negligent Homicide, or whatever it's called in your local jurisdiction.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:06 PM on October 5, 2007


It's a good thing to accord a bit more respect and attention to an authoritative, knowledgeable opinion. As far as I can see, no one other than OmieWise is bringing valid credentials and experience with the treatment of HIV to bear on the discussion here; they're generally just reacting to what they're (mis)reading as a dismissal of a serious disease. I think anotherpanacea's response about the legal implications also sheds a lot of light on how the law would actually view this, in practice.

AIDS can be compared to other infectious diseases, because it is an infectious disease. Comparisons can be illustrative. That doesn't mean it can be equated with other diseases on every point. No one ever said it could, and I don't think anyone here would say such a thing.

In no way does any of this make any difference to how the OP feels, which is, undoubtedly, terrible, or to the deeply self-centered, dishonest, and hazardous behavior of the boyfriend, which is absolutely worthy of condemnation. But a torches-and-pitchforks approach rarely allows for any kind of sophisticated understanding of a problem that needs to be talked about so that it will impact fewer people in the future.
posted by Miko at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2007


Except TB isn't spread by using infected utensils.

Dang, you're right. I was basing the whole conceit on the "no spitting" laws, but swallowing wet TB spit is not dangerous. It's breathing airborne tubercules in dried spit that causes problems. So people lying about their TB status back in the day could share desserts with their friends so long as they didn't borrow their friends' hankies. You know, I just think it would be cool if we could all agree that part of being good dobees and following the social contract is to reveal our possibly fatal disease status to our vulnerable grandmothers and while we're at it all people we're sharing body fluids with. You know, if we know what that status is and are, like, taking meds for it and stuff.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2007


Everyone agrees that is bad. Bad. Everyone agrees.
posted by Miko at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2007


Yep. Bad. Probably not "get hung for murder" bad, but probably "go to the appropriate state-sponsored facility to get rebooted" bad. For the same reason we had the "no spitting" law. So that this problem will impact fewer people in the future.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:53 PM on October 5, 2007


Well, I guess it depends whether you want to solve problems or bitch about them, talk-show style.
posted by Miko at 3:22 PM on October 5, 2007


While I personally think it should be Murder 1, the reality is that the more legally appropriate law would be Criminally Negligent Homicide....

I think I went too long in my last explanation. Lemme try again: in order to convict someone of murder (as opposed to attempted murder), there has to be a dead person.

Put another way: there's no such thing as Attempted Criminally Negligent Homicide.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:01 PM on October 5, 2007


But there is such a thing as reckless endangerment, which is a serious felony. In New York, the law provides:

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

There is a fair amount of precedent for a reckless endangerment prosecution on facts like these.
posted by brain_drain at 4:12 PM on October 5, 2007


I haven't been pushing any "agenda" other than that HIV is not a death sentence. It isn't. Anything you think to the contrary is wrong, completely wrong.

You know, nobody knows the answer there. Since the average time to go from HIV to AIDS without treatment is 10 years, and it's only been about 10 years since we've had effective treatment for HIV, the jury is still out on whether HIV can be called a chronic, but manageable illness. Right now, it's an appropriate assumption that current treatments prolong the time until onset, but do not prevent AIDS.

But that's not the point, is it? As anotherpanacea articulated, you're arguing a legal question, to which intent is a key factor. And if the OP's boyfriend truly believes, as you do, that HIV is not a death sentence, then he clearly doesn't believe that he's endangering the OP's life by having unprotected sex with him. Merely putting him at risk of an inconvenient life full of expensive treatments.

He'd be wrong though.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:20 PM on October 5, 2007


Personally, what's annoyed me is OmieWise's claim that people who are really upset and angry about the HIV positive boyfriend's actions are somehow homophobic. I mean, yeah, we all know there's a homophobic context for hysteria about HIV.

But I think it's an exaggeration, or at least quite premature, to cast HIV as an infectious disease that is controlled enough that a) it's not that big of a deal to have it, and b) it's not that big of a deal to knowingly give it to someone. No one here is actually saying these two things, but in their haste to correct what they perceive as hysteria, they're coming close.

I know as well as anyone here who has someone close to them who is HIV positive that it's not a death sentence and that the outlook now is that, for most people, it's a controllable, lifelong chronic condition. But it's not yet curable and some people—not an insignificant number—die from it. Maybe the fact that this is a rare state of things these days with most common infectious diseases is the reason why we can't quite pin down just how serious we feel it is.

At any rate, if we were coming at this from another direction, if this was in a different context, then, yeah, my dominant response would be the "it's a controllable illness these days". But I'm having a lot of trouble with the extreme circumstances in this case. Here's someone who lied about being HIV negative to a long-term partner in a presumably exclusive relationship. He is taking meds for it. They are having sex without a condom under the presumption that both are negative. They are having the riskiest common variety of sex under the presumption that they are both negative. This has been going on for five months. He has lied specifically about the medication when asked about it.

Whether this person is in denial or not (and the denial argument would hold more water if he wasn't taking those pills every day), he could hardly be doing any more than he already is if he were to intentionally be trying to infect his partner.

If OmieWise hears stories like this all the time, the more's the pity. This is behavior that goes beyond the behavior of confused and sad normal people. I used the word “evil” in the other thread, and I stand by it. This is evil behavior.

And I don't totally agree with malor, but I do wonder if the idea that HIV is pretty much like any other disease, it's not going to kill you, it's just a chronic condition that is controlled through medicine and all that doesn't play a big part in the psychology which allows people like this guy to be as horrifyingly irresponsible as he's being. He may be thinking it's like giving someone herpes. Well, it's not. And if the way that we're reducing the fear and depression and hopelessness of newly diagnosed HIV patients also is encouraging them to be reckless about infecting other people, then maybe we ought to be rethinking things a bit.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:21 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, EB, I pretty much completely agree with you. My point has never been that HIV is so controlled as to be insignificant. It's a big fucking deal. The reasons that people get upset about it beyond the level of reason have everything to do with the intimacy of the ways in which people get exposed to it (even sharing needles is a form of intimacy), and I cannot strongly enough express my disgust for the actions of the BF in this case. My point has also not been that specific homophobia has informed the choice to see this as attempted murder, but I do think that there's a general homophobia still very much in operation in society's responses to HIV. I think that general cultural hysteria has been expressed here.

But I stand by my general contention that we cannot simply allow our very real negative reactions to this particular situation to authorize occluding the reality of HIV. It isn't a death sentence, and as onerous as it might be to take them, it is controlled by meds.

Since the average time to go from HIV to AIDS without treatment is 10 years, and it's only been about 10 years since we've had effective treatment for HIV, the jury is still out on whether HIV can be called a chronic, but manageable illness. Right now, it's an appropriate assumption that current treatments prolong the time until onset, but do not prevent AIDS.

kisch-I think your math is wrong. I'm not an HIV researcher, and there may be studies of which I'm unaware, but certainly, clinically, there are two things that are apparent about HIV after the introduction of ARVs:

1) Those people who had AIDS circa 1996 and are still alive have had their lives extended by at least 10 years by ARVs. Since many of those people are stable on their medications, there is no current reason to suppose that their lives will abruptly end.

2) Since the recommendations are to start ARVs prior to the onset of AIDS (which is a syndrome, so only exists by definition) those people who enter and are compliant with treatment have the onset of AIDS delayed by beginning medication, at this point, presumably, indefinitely. Again, there may be studies I'm not aware of, but, grossly, when people take their medications correctly their viral loads fall to undetectable levels and their CD4 counts rise. That only leaves OIs as a possible AIDS defining condition, and the chances of getting an OI significantly decrease with higher CD4 counts.
posted by OmieWise at 7:52 PM on October 5, 2007


Maybe I'm just being pedantic, but it's the "presumably, indefinitely" bit that is the only problem in your statement. It would be nice to say yes, everything is completely controllable for an indefinite period of time. But until an HIV positive 20-year old lives to be 80, it's not something that we can assume. I hope what you're arguing is true, but nobody knows yet.

Also, I'm a pessimist.
posted by kisch mokusch at 8:08 PM on October 5, 2007


There are a lot of people slinging stupid arguments at OmieWise in this thread, and it's sad because he's obviously the person here who knows and cares most about the issue. Knock it off.

But there is such a thing as reckless endangerment, which is a serious felony.

True, but assault is a more serious felony. So OmieWise was actually harder on the OP's BF than you are. The difference between reckless endangerment and assault is pretty similar to the difference between attempted murder and murder: if you do something that is criminally foolhardy, but everybody turns out okay, it's endangerment. If you actually hurt or infect the person you endangered, it's assault. (By definition, every assault involves reckless endangerment, but I don't think it's supposed to be plead that way.)

In Maryland, second degree assault is a more serious charge than reckless endangerment (10 years v. 5 years max sentence). You'd need a weapon to make it first degree assault, and the whole 'assault with a deadly virus' prosecution is more showboating than good trial lawyering. In New York, it's more complicated because they make a distinction between violent and nonviolent felonies, but endangerment is a class D nonviolent felony (0-4 years), while 1st degree assault is a class B violent felony (5-25 years). You can only get the felony level of reckless endangerment if you can prove 'depraved indifference to human life. ' With that and an injury (i.e. an infection), you can get first degree assault.

I think it'd be easier to make reckless endangerment stick, because a lot depends on the jury, who might be unwilling to class a gay man in denial with street thugs and brutal rapists. On the other hand, there seem to be some jurisdictions where gay men are actually more scary than thugs, so it could go both ways. I don't think that's anything to be very proud of, though.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:52 PM on October 5, 2007


I know as well as anyone here who has someone close to them who is HIV positive that it's not a death sentence and that the outlook now is that, for most people, it's a controllable, lifelong chronic condition

It's as controllable as the medicine allows. Once that reproducing HIV mutates enough to evade available therapies (which you are lucky enough to afford, which your body is lucky enough to tolerate), your time's generally up. If you're a minority, your survival curves drop even further with the same HIV medication.

I can recall the head of a non-profit health clinic in Mexico dryly pointing out that he gets high-end drugs to redistribute to poor patients from recently deceased (relatively wealthy) Americans, in whom the drugs no longer work.

So, yeah, while being positive isn't automatically a death sentence, your five-year and ten-year outlooks aren't immaculate. It's somewhat irresponsible to say that a positive partner knowingly having unprotected sex with an HIV- partner isn't attempting murder, on some level.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:56 PM on October 5, 2007


if the way that we're reducing the fear and depression and hopelessness of newly diagnosed HIV patients also is encouraging them to be reckless about infecting other people, then maybe we ought to be rethinking things a bit.
ottereroticist responded to this above. It's about harm reduction: you can only send one message, and it's got to be both accurate (or else people won't believe you) and pretty simple (or else people won't understand you.) So you've got to choose between fear and reality, and you choose reality. The alternative, she wrote is this:

Trying to scare people into safer behavior, especially for those in marginalized communities, can lead to message fatigue, fatalism, and even more unsafe behavior.

So: overstating risks increases risks, and accurately stating them reduces risks, though not to zero. Regardless, nothing can save you from douchebags.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:18 PM on October 5, 2007


Message fatigue isn't helped by happy advertisements from Big Pharma that pretend that HIV levels are always and indefinitely manageable (and people repeating that myth on their behalf). Just sayin'
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


happy advertisements from Big Pharma that pretend that HIV levels are always and indefinitely manageable (and people repeating that myth on their behalf)

Being a shill for Big Pharma is just no fun! You get so much shit.

Seriously, as far as I know I'm the only person to have been called out in MeTa because I'm not a shill for pharmaceutical companies. I'm not sure how else to talk about HIV other than by talking about the clinical and research evidence. The ACTG studies are pretty thorough, and one of the big measured results is "death events." I feel pretty confident that as difficult as it is to live with HIV, ARVs save a lot of lives.
posted by OmieWise at 5:09 AM on October 6, 2007


Being a shill for Big Pharma is just no fun! You get so much shit.

I apologize to you, OmieWise, because it sounded like I called you a shill, and you're not being a shill.

But I'll admit I'm giving you a little shit, as you are repeating an assertion that is just not true, reinforcing a perception that drug companies would hope people have about the consequences of being HIV positive: namely, that you pop a few pills and things will be just peachy.

They never mention the side effects, and what your options are when the drugs stop working. Your sex life is dramatically different (or it damn well should be). Hope those dentists, EMT or ER workers who deal with your body fluids don't fuck up.

But, hey, those ads are slick, aren't they? Fuck around without condoms, 'cause it's all smiles, happy times and normalcy when your blood work comes back from the lab! The Advocate's wildly profitable advertising said so, as did the four-color spread on the wall in the gay bar's bathroom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on October 6, 2007


Apology accepted.

I agree with you, there's a real problem when the true difficulties of taking medications are downplayed. I don't think that I've done that, but if I have, I apologize. I continue to think, in large part based on my clinical practice, that the problem of reducing HIV to a death sentence is doing more harm these days. That doesn't mean, as I said up above somewhere, that I don't think it's a delicate proposition to present the realities of HIV truthfully without either downplaying its seriousness or overstating its current deadliness.
posted by OmieWise at 2:59 PM on October 6, 2007


I think heatherann's post is a good one, too, but I do have to point out that the first sentence of her email contains a factual error that is both instructive of her level of knowledge and should not be allowed to stand: Trizivir is a decent HIV medication, but is not recommended as a first line stand alone treatment for HIV.

Yeah, I wish I could go back and change that bit. I've only been working in the HIV community for 6 months. I've been learning about treatment (though treatment info is not my job), but I was wrong about Trizivir.

I don't really see how the "boyfriend = murderer" conversation is useful to the OP. I can see how it's everyone's gut reaction, but he's still in shock and not ready to break things off. Right now he needs to figure out how to confront his boyfriend, how to deal with the shock, how to stay sane while he waits 3 months to get tested again, etc.

OmieWise, it's interesting to hear that you've dealt with similar situations quite regularly. From my emails with the OP, I think he would benefit from hearing more about that, just to know that he's not alone and that there are support networks for what he's going through. I'm not familiar enough with it to really point him anywhere specific.
posted by heatherann at 10:28 PM on October 7, 2007


This questions and the supportive reactions to it are the main reason I joined Metafilter. There are times when we all need a hug, even online, or a hand to hold in a tough situation. I hope I become a useful part of this community the more time I spend here and can depend on all of you to be the same for me...

with a little snarking to freshen things up now and then, of course.

Cause Hallmark cards are kinda boring.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:46 PM on October 9, 2007


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