invisible hit counter
Disclosure key to stop spread of STDs
A Brunswick man stands to find out the hard way that engaging in sexual activity with someone while knowingly carrying HIV or AIDS can land him in jail.

A woman told police Saturday she had been in a physical relationship with a man who has AIDS, only she did not know he had the disease at the time of their relationship.

She told police she was informed only recently by a family member of her former boyfriend that he had the disease. The two had been in a sexual relationship from April 2010 until June 2011.

The ex-boyfriend now may face charges of reckless conduct for having consensual sex while knowing he had AIDS, according to the police report.

The News is not releasing the name of the man or woman due to the nature of the complaint.

The woman was tested for the disease, which turned out to be negative, according to the police report.

The situation is one Sylvester Nixon, the Coastal Health District's manager for sexually transmitted diseases, said should never happen.

Anyone who tests positive or is newly diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is informed of their responsibilities to disclose their condition.

"From that day forward, they should share that status with anyone they will be sexually involved with," Nixon said. "That way you give them the opportunity to say yes or no."

Ensuring AIDS patients know the ramifications of their actions is the first step in trying to prevent the spread of the incurable disease.

"We really stress that they can end up in prison for quite some time if they knowingly spread it," Nixon said.

Prevention is especially important today with the number of HIV and AIDS cases increasing in the Coastal Health District over the last several years, Nixon said.

In 2010, there were 970 reported cases of HIV and 1,271 reported cases of AIDS in the eight-county Coastal Health District. Counties in the district are Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh.

Statewide numbers are high also. In 2009, Georgia had the sixth highest number of reported cases in the country and in 2010, there were 40,328 cases reported in the state.

Nixon said everyone should be aware of the risks when entering a sexually active relationship.

"If you feel like you will become sexually engaged with someone ask about their status," Nixon said. "Never take the answer of 'I'm fine, don't worry about it.'"

Nixon said it is important people know, whether they have the disease or not, that anyone who is found to have engaged in sexual activity while knowingly carrying either HIV or AIDS faces legal charges.

* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at mhall@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.



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