Man arrested after stopping TB treatment

05/20/2012 // West Palm Beach, Florida, US // justicenews // Justice News Flash // (press release)

San Francisco, CA – A California man was arrested after he chose to discontinue taking medication used to treat his tuberculosis. As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Armando Rodriguez was charged with refusal to comply with a tuberculosis order after purportedly being warned repeatedly to maintain appointments to receive treatment for it.

As noted in the report, public health officials remain divided on whether the arrest was just. Rodriguez ‘condition may put others who come into contact with him at risk due to its contagious nature.

Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University public health law professor, is quoted by the AP as stating of the issue, “I think it’s an error to confine someone in the criminal justice system for a public health crime… The whole intention is to protect the public’s health. It’s not to lay blame on someone.”

San Joaquin County prosecutor Stephen Taylor is further quoted as stating of these types of arrests, “The criminal cases we’re dealing with generally involve drug users who are harder to treat and manage because the TB medicines conflict with street drugs… We have to throw these people in jail and treat them as in-patients. They don’t cooperate as out-patients.”

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