Remember how we discussed the new scientific evidence of acupuncture’s stress-relieving effects and why they occur? I began to really think about trying it out, despite the ageda it may give me. Then, I saw this terrible news story regarding a vile acupuncturist who infected his patients with HIV. On purpose. Sixteen times. Of course, I fully realize it was only one man and there’s not reason to believe any other acupuncturist would do anything remotely similar, but it still left me sufficiently freaked out.
The Swiss man was a music teacher and self-professed healer in Bern who performed acupuncture on clients. Prosecutors claim the man, who has been on trial since earlier this month, deliberately infected his clients — including music students — with HIV between 2001 and 2005 using many pretenses. The defendant, however, insists that he is simply part of a huge conspiracy and that he is somehow the victim.
The actual victims, however, say that they all have the same strain of HIV, thus pushing forward the claim by prosecutors that the man was responsible for their infections. One University of Zurich scientist, though, says that the attacks were likely done with syringes — not acupuncture needles.
The man seems to have severe issues with confronting reality, as he refused to appear at two hearings in court. Then, he produced a doctor’s note stating he was too fatigued to show up. The court determined it was fake, and therefore had to send police to detain the man. Upon their arrival, the authorities were met with hostility, as the man had locked his door and was threatening to defend himself with a gun. After approximately a day of negotiations, the man and a woman who was also present in the house were arrested. Prosecutors are seeking 15 years in prison for the crime.
Obviously, as I said earlier, there’s no reason to believe this is not an isolated set of incidents. The overwhelming majority of real practitioners have the absolute best intentions and would never so much as think about harming a patient. And while I am still quite upset about this story, I will likely still try acupuncture in the very near future because it (A) sounds effective (B) has been recommended to me by friends and doctors and (C) I have received innumerable solid recommendations on acupuncturists, and I trust those recs. It’s just such a shame that, like the scary OB/GYN who undoubtedly helped set male doctors in the field back in women’s minds, a single bad person can give thousands of other people a bad name.