UPDATE February 3rd 2009. The man received a four year sentence after pleading guilty, according to brief AP report on wnct.com.
A South Carolina man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for infecting his girlfriend with HIV.... Martinez will serve his sentence in Florida where he is already in prison for a similar crime.
Man charged with exposing girlfriend to HIVPosted on Sat, Mar. 22, 2008
By RACHEL E. LEONARD
SPARTANBURG — A Spartanburg man has been arrested on a charge he knowingly exposed a girlfriend to HIV, causing her to become infected, authorities say.
Gregory Sean Martinez, 39, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home. Under state law, it’s illegal for someone who knows he or she is HIV positive to engage in sexual intercourse without informing the other person, said Maj. Dan Johnson with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
“When you’re infected with HIV and pass it on to a partner in some form or fashion knowingly, you can see what a tremendous health issue that is,” he said.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the woman discovered she was infected during a prenatal checkup after she became pregnant with twins in 2007. She told investigators she and Martinez first engaged in consensual sex in 2006 in Florida. They moved to Spartanburg, where they lived together until January, when she moved back to Florida.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Martinez recently admitted to the woman he has been infected with HIV since 2002, but never informed her of his status or suggested practicing safer sex before that.
The crime is a felony that can carry up to 10 years in prison or a $5,000 fine upon conviction. In 2005, a Spartanburg County man pleaded guilty to knowingly exposing two people he met over the Internet to HIV and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of probation. But such cases are rare, Johnson said.
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen one of those,” he said.
Spartanburg police Capt. Randy Hardy echoed his thoughts. “I can’t remember seeing that or having made a charge of that,” he said.
Tracey Jackson, executive director of the Spartanburg-based HIV prevention and advocacy group Piedmont Care, said sexual partners might not disclose their status — and most don’t report infection to law enforcement — because of the stigma that continues to shroud the virus, which causes AIDS.
“What you’re seeing here is fear of HIV and fear of stigma,” she said.
But no law, Jackson said, reduces the duty of all individuals to protect themselves, and all people who engage in sexual activity should discuss HIV with their partners. At the same time, people who are HIV positive shouldn’t be further stigmatized because of the actions of any one individual, she said.
There are also difficulties in enforcing the law, including proving someone exposed a partner during the suspected time period and knew he or she was HIV positive at the time.