A CHARITY and leading doctors have criticised the jailing of a Braunston man who passed on genital herpes to his partner.
David Golding, 28, was jailed for 14 months at Northampton Crown Court last week after he kept quiet about having the sexually transmitted infection.
The traffic officer with the Highways Agency, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, had caught it from a previous partner.
He claimed to have been given the all-clear before passing it onto a new partner towards the end of 2009, without ever disclosing he had it.
Nigel Scott, of the Herpes Viruses Association, said: “This is outrageous. Will children also now be prosecuted for giving their friends chicken pox? For passing on a cold sore?
“Most people who have genital herpes don’t know it because even if they do get recurrences, it is such a trivial infection that they don’t notice it. It has exactly the same medical implications and consequences as an ordinary facial cold sore so in no way can it be construed as serious.
“It is an extraordinarily ill-informed comment to compare it to HIV. This case sets back the normalisation of this trivial infection by years. I had thought such a farcical scenario could only happen in America . . . never in Northampton”.
Dr Colm O’Mahony, who is a sexual health consultant, said: “Being sent to prison for passing on herpes simplex is like being sent down for 10 years for a parking offence. I’m appalled. There is no way of proving who gave herpes to whom and with so many of the population already unknowingly infected it is irrelevant to blame someone specific. It is a cold sore in an awkward place.”
Marian Nicholson, director of the Herpes Viruses Association said, “It is unfortunate genital herpes is being dragged in to court like this. While we sympathise with the woman, she is one of nearly 75,000 new cases each year.
“This is a very common virus – herpes simplex – that most of us carry without even noticing. We know that many of those who are diagnosed are reluctant to disclose their status but this is because of the unnecessary stigma, not because it is serious . . . emphatically it is not.”