TB Patient Jailed for Refusing Medication

California meth user was risking public health

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 17, 2012 12:55 AM CDT | Updated May 17, 2012 3:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – A tuberculosis patient in California who refused to take medication to stop his condition from becoming contagious has been locked up to protect the public. Armando Rodriguez, 34, missed eight out of nine doses in the space of 47 days. He told health officials who visited his home that he had been on a crystal meth and alcohol bender, and didn't want to further damage his liver with the TB drugs, reports CBS.

Rodriguez has been charged with refusing to comply with a tuberculosis order, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail—three months longer than it would take to complete his treatment. It's very rare for somebody to be jailed for refusing to take their medication, although San Joaquin County is more aggressive than most in prosecuting tuberculosis patients. "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," the prosecutor says. "We have to throw these people in jail and treat them as inpatients. They don't cooperate as outpatients."

Armando Rodriguez wears a protective mask to protect others from his TB.
Armando Rodriguez wears a protective mask to protect others from his TB.   (AP Photo/San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office)
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