Imagine that Herman has toxic radioactive waste from his laboratory. He decides to bury it in the ground next to his laboratory, knowing that it will expose the surrounding houses to dangerous radiation. As a result, Gertrude develops cancer some years later and dies at the age of 37.
Herman never intended to cause Gertrude to get cancer. He merely foresaw that his actions risked giving her cancer. However, the defence that he merely foresaw but not intend her developing a malignancy is empty. He should, ethically, be as blameworthy as if he put the waste in her food. He is responsible and blameworthy for her cancer.
Nadja Benaissa, 28, of the German band, No Angels, is on trial in the city of Darmstadt. She has admitted to having unprotected sex with several partners knowing that she was HIV positive and without warning them (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10983227).
"I am so sorry," she said.
She denied deliberately infecting anyone. "No way did I want my partner to be infected."
Imagine that Herman said that he was sorry and “No way did I want Gertrude to get cancer and die at the age of 37." This would be no excuse at all. He should be held fully accountable for her avoidable and foreseeable death.
But when it comes to HIV, this principle is resisted. AIDS campaigners have resisted criminalising this kind of behaviour.
"By singling out HIV, it really promotes fear and stigma," one spokesperson said.
Of course there is an obvious response: hold everyone who foreseeably and avoidably exposes another person to risk accountable. It should not matter whether it is HIV, syphilis, TB, toxic waste or dangerous driving. When we know our behaviour could kill people, and fail to warn them to allow them to protect themselves, we should be held accountable.
Herman is a bad man.