NORTHAMPTON, England – Sexual health experts Tuesday lashed out at a decision to jail a U.K. man for giving his partner genital herpes.
David Golding was given a 14-month prison sentence last week for not informing his girlfriend that he had the sexually transmitted infection, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo reported.
The 28-year-old, from Braunston, central England, had earlier pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court to inflicting grievous bodily harm.
The court heard Golding had denied having the infection when his then girlfriend, 24-year-old Cara Scott, was diagnosed with it soon after their relationship began in 2009. He only admitted it to her shortly before they broke up in 2010. Scott then went to the police.
According to the Daily Mail, Judge Michael Fowler said at sentencing, "'Because it was in a relationship, it was particularly mean and an offense which amounted to a betrayal -- a betrayal in a relationship in which you [Golding] professed love.
"The injury you caused her by this infection is at least or more serious than an injury leaving a scar because it carries continued recurrence, extreme discomfort and consequences for relationships she will have in the future."
However, 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?"
Sexual health consultant Dr. Colm O'Mahony said, "Being sent to prison for passing on herpes simplex is like being sent down for 10 years for a parking offense. 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."
The virus which causes genital herpes can cause an outbreak or lie dormant for years, during which time it is not infectious. Many people remain unaware they are infected.