Here’s a headline for SNL’s “Weekend Update” skit: Arizona bill would make intentional STD exposure a felony.
It’s not the bill that raises my eyebrows as much as the thought that people are intentionally giving one another STDs.
About the Arizona STD Bill
An article on AZCentral.com states that:
- Individuals are being contracted with STDs by partners who don’t share that they have one.
- The bill wants to make giving someone an STD a Class 6 felony.
- “Intentional exposure” is basically someone not disclosing they have an STD before sexual acts take place, tissue, organs or fluids are donated, or needles are shared.
Apparently, a few decades ago a host of other bills like this were passed but none lasted. Wonder why…
What’s wrong with this picture?
I have no doubt that STDs are a growing public health concern. They’ve been a problem in the past. They continue to be a problem today.
What’s concerning however are comments and thoughts behind getting a bill like this in place – for more reasons than one.
Here are my (unsolicited) thoughts:
Partners don’t share they have an STD…
If you know you’re infectious, you should not be spreading that around no matter what the motivation is. – Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix.
I get it – the law would try to require that individuals tell someone they have an STD before they jump in the sack. Or share needles – which is a whole other problem in and of itself.
Good to protect the public.
I do appreciate that lawmakers are wanting to protect the public. Especially those who contract an STD because of someone’s sick joke. But – with STD occurrence being as high as it is, my suspicion is that they’re not spreading because of pranks. They’re spreading because of a lack of self control.
Where’s the accountability?
The law is saying individuals need the chance to prevent contracting an STD… especially if they know their buddy waiting in bed is about to give them herpes.
But here’s my question – why are we passing laws advocating this type of sexual behavior and lack of responsibility?
The best way to prevent an STD is to 1) abstain from sexual relationships and 2) use a condom. Why WOULDN’T you be using a condom if you’re about to sleep with someone you don’t know well enough to ask if they happen to have an STD?
The argument could be made that there are alternate forms of birth control other than a condom. My same thoughts apply. If you’re sleeping around, you need to know the realities of STDs.
- Read STD statistics (hint: they’re quite common)
- Know the difference between preventing conception and preventing STDs (hint – it’s NOT ALWAYS the same)
Educate yourself on what’s really going on out there and decide if you’re going to sleep with someone unprotected.
Laws to protect our people? I’m all for them.
Laws to enable a lack of education about STDs and diminish the personal responsibility that comes with sexually interacting with someone? I don’t think so.
Class 6 Felony for giving someone an STD…
Hmm, giving someone an STD could be classified as a Class 6 felony? It’s nice that it’s the lowest-ranking felony in Arizona, however it can still mean jail time. And a felony is a felony. The average person hears “felon” and thinks murder, kidnapper, drug lord – you know, the bad guys. Not really “horn ball.” And if we’re going to label those with STDs as felons, we better be prepared for a population full of felons and a group of people angry at their classification.
And how exactly ARE you doing to track down the “felons.”
I know there are a lot of cool apps out there – such as the new one trying to tell you who gave you the flu.
But figuring out who gave you the STD – that could be tricky.
Why get STD tested?
Last, I’m concerned that laws like this would actually have an unwanted response. Why get STD tested if it’s going to put you in jail?
Adina Nack, a senior research fellow for the Council on Contemporary Families, says it perfectly:
“Legislation like this could unintentionally discourage people from getting tested and treated and diagnosed.”
It’s no fun to have an STD test come back positive. But modern medicine allows for the treatment of most STDs – which is one way to GET RID OF THEM.
Our final two cents…
So – on an ending note, to be clear:
- I advocate laws that protect the public and public health.
- When it comes to sexual behavior, there is a responsibility on BOTH consenting partners to ask the right questions and take the right steps to prevent pregnancy AND sexually transmitted diseases.
- STD testing is critical if we want to improve health and work on fixing the problem. Laws that deter this testing could have adverse effects.
What do you think – agree? Think I’m crazy? Would love to know your thoughts!