Note: this is a very disturbing trend – Alan
On Jan. 19, Matthew Wenzler, a 27-year-old Ohio man, was arrested in the early morning hours for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. During his arrest, Wenzler allegedly spit at police officers repeatedly until he was eventually spitting blood.
After officers learned that Wenzler has hepatitis C (HCV), he was charged with felonious assault, Ohio’s most serious assault offense. His bail was set at $75,000. Although news of his arrest quickly faded from the local news, it may mark a watershed moment in a growing trend of HCV criminalization across the country.
“There are certainly statutes around the country that criminalize hepatitis,” said Trevor Hoppe, assistant professor of sociology at University at Albany, State University of New York. “They are not as numerous as HIV-specific criminalization laws, and they’re not enforced as widely, but they do exist.” Moreover, HCV criminalization may be on the rise, repeating the wave of HIV criminalization laws that sprang up in the wake of the AIDS crisis.