Intended for healthcare professionals


Sex post Golding

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 14 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4457
  1. Emily Clarke, specialty trainee in genitourinary medicine 14,
  2. J Green, chief psychologist24,
  3. R Patel, consultant genitourinary medicine physician134
  1. 1Department of Genitourinary Medicine, Solent NHS Trust, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton SO40 8TR, UK
  2. 2Department of Genitourinary Medicine, St Mary’s Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  4. 4Herpes Special Interest Group, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, Macclesfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to: E Clarke emilyrclarke{at}

Time for a debate on whether the criminal law is the best way to deal with infectious diseases

On 8 May 2014 the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of David Golding against a 14 month prison sentence for transmitting herpes to his partner.1 Golding had pleaded guilty at his original trial and so the evidence was never put before a jury. In pleading guilty the defendant admitted both that he had transmitted the virus to his partner and that this amounted to grievous bodily harm, something he later regretted. He appealed against the conviction and against the sentence. The court reduced the sentence to three months on the basis of the delays in hearing the appeal. It did not think that 14 months was unreasonable.

Golding was convicted on the basis of section 20 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, under which all convictions for transmitting HIV have been achieved.2 To get a conviction in a trial the Crown would have to have shown that three key …

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