Swiss acupuncture healer charged with infecting people with HIV

Swiss “healer” accused of intentionally infecting 16 people with HIV using acupuncture needles.

An unlicensed acupuncturist in Switzerland has been accused of intentionally infecting 16 people with the HIV virus for over a decade, authorities announced Thursday.

The unidentified man was indicted by a five-judge panel in Bern-Mitelland regional court on charges of intentionally spreading human disease and causing serious bodily harm, offenses that carry maximum penalties of five to 10 years respectively, said the regional prosecutor’s office in Bern, the Swiss capital.

A spokesman for the prosecutor, Christof Scheurer, said the man also practiced as an unlicensed, self-styled acupuncturist — a trade which he is believed to have used between 2001 and 2005 as a pretext to prick and infect some of his victims with blood that was infected with AIDS.

The police investigation concluded that the man had used various pretexts to prick his victims, but it remained unclear exactly what objects he had used. In other cases, the investigation found, the self-described healer — who is not HIV-positive — had served his victims drinks that made them pass out so he could infect them.

Tip: @JREF on Twitter

Pretty awful stuff. Hard to even comprehend what sort of sick person would do such a thing. The probe was launched because of complaints. 16 people were infected and this is a common source but what is NOT clear is if he was intentionally infecting them or if poor practice was the cause. Regardless, his methods were not on the up and up, being unlicensed, unscientific, unsanitary and unethical. This would not be likely to happen in a modern facility even by accident because of regulations for sanitary conditions.

  5 comments for “Swiss acupuncture healer charged with infecting people with HIV

  1. Drivebyposter
    September 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Well if he is making patients pass out and then they are infected…that would imply deliberateness.

  2. One Eyed Jack
    September 1, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    “This would not be likely to happen in a modern facility even by accident because of regulations for sanitary conditions.”

    Really? Seriously? The naivete in that statement is astounding.

    So acupuncturists, people who are either fools or charlatans, should be trusted because their particular flavor of ignorant woo has regulations?


  3. September 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I don’t understand your comment. Ehat is naive about it? Medical facilities are highly regulated. They are not allowed to use unsanitary measures in order to minimize infections. How often do people get HIV from standard medical care?

  4. Bob
    September 4, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Would that that were true. Hundreds of thousands of hospital patients develop infections at surgical sites, catheter or IV locations, etc. Many of these could be prevented if basic infection control procedures were followed. Regulations and public disclosures are helping prod hospitals to use identified best practices & checklists, but there is still very far to go.

    As for deliberate transmission of infectious disease, there have been reports & convictions over the years of people delivering “standard medical care” (doctors, nurses, dentists) who deliberately harm people, even infecting people with HIV. The fact that the victims in this case were receiving useless procedures is really beside the point.

  5. One Eyed Jack
    September 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    See Bob’s comments.

    Accidents happen and repeatedly sticking a patient with needles for a treatment that has no proven effect beyond placebo is not only dangerous, it’s irresponsible.

    I work in a medical laboratory. We receive 2-3 HIV exposure incidents a week from local hospitals. These are from quality hospitals with numerous precautions and excellent patient care records. It happens. It happens a lot.

    Just because it happens in a regulated medical facility doesn’t make it OK to peddle voodoo.

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