HIV and Friends, Part 3 — Where Ignorance Rules

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2008

It’s strange how sometimes we see a convergence of related topics coming within a few days of each other. In our discussion of the ethics of revealing someone’s HIV status, I wrote at length on the pernicious effects that AIDS-related stigma continues to have within the LGBT community as well as the larger society. Of course, that larger stigma has had more than twenty-five years to fester.

But then yesterday, we had a mainstream news report from Switzerland, in which health experts suggested that people with HIV/AIDS with an undetectable viral load may not be contagious. (While their hypothesis makes a lot of sense logically, I’m not aware of any research to support it just yet.)

Judge Jon-Jo DouglasBut now, we have shocking news out of Canada — you know, that country that is so much in the grip of the “homosexual agenda” — that a judge believes that HIV/AIDS is so contagious, one can be infected just by sharing the same courtroom with someone. According to the Toronto Star:

An Ontario judge is at the centre of a misconduct investigation after insisting a witness who is HIV-positive and has Hepatitis C don a mask while testifying in his courtroom.

Three groups have complained to the Ontario Judicial Council about the conduct of Barrie judge Justice Jon-Jo Douglas, who later moved the case to a bigger courtroom in order to create more distance between the witness and the bench.

… “The HIV virus will live in a dried state for year after year after year and only needs moisture to reactivate itself,” Douglas insisted, according to a transcript of the Nov. 23 trial proceedings.

At one point, court employees donned rubber gloves and placed documents touched by the witness into plastic bags.

Judge Douglas’ ignorance is downright appalling. I have no idea where he gets his medical information. Maybe from the same source as Mike Huckabee. You may recall, he recently defendd his call to quarantine everyone who’s HIV-positive (while saying it wouldn’t be called a “quarantine”). Instead, Judge Douglas should probably acquaint himself with what the experts at Health Canada has to say:

HIV cannot be transmitted through:

— Casual, everyday contact;
— Shaking hands, hugging, kissing;
— Coughs, sneezes;
— Giving blood;
— Swimming pools, toilet seats;
— Sharing eating utensils, water fountains; or
— Mosquitoes, other insects, or animals.

Meanwhile, complaints have been filed against Judge Douglas:

Ontario’s Criminal Lawyers Association has also lodged a complaint with the judicial council. The lawyers’ group contends Douglas did not bring a judicial temperament to trial proceedings and treated a witness differently on the basis of irrelevant personal characteristics. … The complaints are being investigated by a judicial council subcommittee, which will determine if a public inquiry into Douglas’s fitness to remain on the bench is warranted.

Judge Douglas however remains obstinate:

Douglas refused the Crown’s request to grant a mistrial, declined to recuse himself from the case and refused to consider granting bail to the accused, Lee Wilde, when it became clear the trial would have to be adjourned until the judge’s concerns were addressed.

A new trial will begin Feb. 14.

See also:
HIV and Friends, where we discuss the ethics of revealing someone’s HIV status and the pernicious role stigma plays in the assumptions surrounding those living with HIV/AIDS.
HIV and Friends, Part 2 — Is an Undetectable Viral Load Safe?, where we examine the hypothesis of Swiss health officials who suggest that an undetectable viral load renders one virtually non-contagious.


February 1st, 2008

I really appreciate your tackling a discussion on HIV/AIDS. We need to have these types of articles more and more often. Flinching away from this topic will only serve to hurt our community, I think.

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