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Monday 14 April 2008

US: Teenage Wisconsin student investigated for HIV exposure

An 18 year-old Wisconsin high school student is being investigated for criminal HIV exposure after his aunt – with whom he had been living for six months, but to whom he had not disclosed his HIV status until he moved out – disclosed his HIV status to two of his former girlfriends, who then went to the police.

His medical records have been subpoenaed, but so far he has not been charged with anything, or even been interviewed by the police.

According to an excellent article at the Wisconsin Lawyer website:

Wisconsin does not have a criminal statute that specifically criminalises HIV exposure through sexual intercourse. Rather, prosecutions can be pursued with charges of reckless endangerment, assault and battery, or even negligent homicide, depending on the circumstances.

The criminal charge in Wisconsin most commonly used by prosecutors in this situation is reckless endangerment. The crime requires proof that the defendant recklessly endangered the safety of another with utter disregard of human life. A prosecutor could argue that an HIV-positive defendant who knowingly engages in unprotected sex is recklessly endangering the safety of the sexual partner. Reckless endangerment is a felony that can carry a prison term of up to 10 years.

This story, published on the ABC news affiliate is yet another case of the media publishing accusations before an arrest, but at least this story does not publish the teenager's name, or other identifying details, unlike a recent case in Scotland, which, I believe, has been referred to the Press Complaints Commission.

HIV-Positive Student Suspected Of Knowingly Exposing Others
POSTED: 5:52 pm CDT April 11, 2008
UPDATED: 5:11 pm CDT April 12, 2008

MILWAUKEE -- A South Milwaukee High School student is under investigation for allegedly having unprotected sex with one of his classmates and not telling her he is HIV positive.

The 18-year-old has not been criminally charged, but investigators have subpoenaed his medical records. According to court documents obtained by 12 News, the man has been HIV positive since at least 2006.

The student had sex with an 18-year-old female student three times last year and had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl in December, the female students said. The teens told police that they did not know he was HIV positive until the man's aunt alerted them last month.

In an interview with 12 News' Brendan Conway, the teen, who remains anonymous due to the fact that he has not yet been charged with anything, said that he did not have sex with the women who are making the claim.

"It's south Milwaukee," he told Conway. "Anything to start some drama will start some drama."

He did, however, admit to keeping his HIV status a secret to nearly everyone, including his family.

Investigators said the student put at least two of his classmates in danger. But the man said there is nothing to the case. He said he kept his HIV status from his family because it's degrading, but he said he wouldn't keep it from a girlfriend.

"If I were to be intimate with somebody, they would know because for the simple reason that's why I got it," the man said.

According to his aunt, the 18-year-old man lived with her from October until March, and she said she was not aware that he was HIV positive until he moved out. She contacted the girls immediately.

Superintendant David Ewald refused to say what -- if anything -- the school is doing to warn other students. However, the health department has reported receiving calls from concerned parents and students.

Mike Gifford, the chief operating officer of the AIDS resource center of Wisconsin, said there are more than 400 new cases of HIV infections in Wisconsin each year.

"Clearly, if you are engaging in unprotected sex, you are putting yourself at risk for HIV, and you need to take steps to protect yourself," Gifford said. "If you have engaged in this behavior, you need to get a test right away."

The man said that he has not met with police yet, but he said he is willing to speak with them.


Anonymous said...

I personaly know this young man and feel betrayed by his actions. I had talked with him on the phone many times and even called myself his friend. He betrayed my friends and myself, we let him in on our personal lives, we trusted him, yet he couldn't let us in on an issue such as this, that puts lives at risk. I hope he recieves charges for putting my fellow classmates in danger. This is the harsh reality that you can't trust anybody.


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