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Thursday 9 July 2009

US: Ohio woman charged, named and shamed for spitting on boyfriend

An HIV-positive Cincinnati woman has had her name and photo published in the local media even though her HIV status is totally irrelevent to the alleged crime she was arrested for.

In a story headlined, 'HIV woman charged with spitting', the Cincinnati Enquirer says that the woman was arrested on felony domestic violence charges for hitting her male partner in the face with a bottle during an argument. However the police and media focus has been the woman's HIV status, even though a bottle-in-the-face is obviously far more serious than totally harmless saliva.

A second report from local TV station 9 News website,, which had the decency not publish the name or photo of the woman "[d]ue to the suspect's reported medical status..." still includes 'HIV' and 'spit' in its headline. It has a little more detail about the incident:

According to police, the 43-year-old woman, who is HIV positive, spit on her boyfriend during an argument in "an attempt to cause him physical harm." Police say she also hit him in the face with a bottle. When officers tried to arrest the woman, she allegedly pulled away from them. As a result, she is now facing a resisting arrest charge in addition to a felony domestic violence charge.
Readers comments on both websites are quite horrendous, with some 9 News readers also complaining that the woman's name and photo should be published because the woman was a "danger to public health".

Without all the facts available, I can't comment on the possibility that the woman was herself a victim of domestic violence, fighting back in self-defence, or that her partner was already HIV-positive, so could not possibly be assaulted by HIV-positive spit, as has been alleged by some readers' comments.

However, I do know that the area of Cincinnati where the arrest took place, Over-the-Rhine, was recently judged to be the most dangerous neighbourhood in America. Don't the police have more serious crimes to fight in this neighbourhood than this?



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