EXPECT a fresh surge in the UK’s prison population any-time soon.
And I’m not talking about all the rioters and looters being jailed by the night courts.
This country has over 6 million sufferers of genital herpes.
And passing it on willy-nilly (if you’ll excuse the pun) has just been deemed a jailable offence.
A man of 29 has just been locked away for 14 months for giving his girlfriend the virus.
What on earth was David Golding charged with, you’re thinking. Carrying an offensive weapon – and using it? Actually, it was inflicting grievous bodily harm.
I’d say that’s stretching the definition of grievous. Herpes is not nice. It causes sores and blisters and cannot be cured. But is it a grievous injury? Not to my mind. Nor to the sexual health experts who have likened the sentence to being sent down for 10 years for a parking offence.
Certainly not to all the herpes-affected who are getting on with their lives and could do without this huge endorsement of the stigma, thank you.
The judge believed the girlfriend’s claims that her ex – whom she shopped to police after their relationship ended – had deliberately lied so she would have unprotected sex, catch herpes and then be his forever because no one else would want her.
So Golding’s crime, then, is that he kept quiet about it. The judge called that a betrayal. But men and women betray each other in far more painful ways than passing on an STD – and they don’t get carted off to prison.
Plus let’s not overlook the fact that this is a virus which can lay dormant in the body for a long time between flare-ups; it can and does fool sufferers into believing it’s gone away for good.
Might Golding now decide to take action against the person who gave the virus to him? Let’s hope not – it could run and run (sorry).
We should pray, too, that his ex does not plan to respond to an appeal from a new art exhibition in London: The Museum of Broken Relationships is asking for souvenirs of love affairs that went wrong.
Perish the thought of what she could donate.