Huntington’s Disease

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Would You Get A Test Now That Confirmed a Fatal Illness Later?

A young Kristen Powers is held by her mother, Nicola, while her father looks on in the background. Nicola was later diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a fatal illness. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Powers)

A young Kristen Powers is held by her mother, Nicola, while her father looks on in the background. Nicola was later diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a fatal illness. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Powers)

By Ravali Reddy, Peninsula Press

If you had a 50-50 chance of inheriting a genetic disease, would you get tested to know? Or would you wait for fate to reveal itself years later?

Would your decision change if you knew the disease slowly takes away the ability to walk, talk, and even think?

What if there were no cure?

“I’ve always wanted to travel, and I knew that that was something I’d have to do earlier if I tested positive.”
Kristen Powers posed those questions aloud and then let them hang in the air as she spoke to a dozen middle and high school students. The slender, 19-year-old Stanford University freshman was taking part in a program where undergraduates teach classes on topics of their choosing. Today’s class — “To Test or Not to Test? The Ethics Behind Genetically Inherited disease” — covers a subject that Kristen knows far too much about.

“How many of you know what Huntington’s disease is?” she asked, only to find herself met with a mostly blank faces. Continue reading