Orlando Sentinel Profiles Story of Mentally Disabled Woman Having Unprotected Sex Despite HIV-Positive Status
The Orlando Sentinel on Sunday profiled "Lila Brown," an HIV-positive woman with an IQ of 64 who continues to have promiscuous unprotected sex with men she may or may not tell of her infection. Brown's legal guardian has "pleaded" with the courts to do something to keep her off the streets and to prevent her from transmitting the virus to others, but prosecutors say they cannot do anything until one of Brown's sexual partners complains. One judge has called Brown, who has been arrested for prostitution, a "walking time bomb." Brown is "sexually streetwise," according to a psychologist who examined her in 1998 at the order of the court, but she has the reasoning capabilities of a child, the psychologist also noted. "I know I got to tell these men (about the virus). But somebody gave it to me and didn't tell me. It's not fair," Brown said. Authorities have been unable to keep Brown off of the street, due to a lack of appropriate facilities to care for her and because of glitches in the legal system that kept her HIV and mental history out of court documents when she was brought up on prostitution charges. The larger "more disconcerting" issue is how many other people like Brown are on the street having unprotected sex with unknowing partners, the Sentinel states. "There are a lot of people -- mentally ill, mentally incapacitated and otherwise -- who are engaging in sex without telling their partners they have any number of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Sometimes they really don't care. Sometimes they really don't understand. And sometimes others take advantage of the mentally incapacitated without realizing they may be exposing themselves to a deadly disease," Sonia Nieves-Burton, a lawyer with the Florida Department of Health, said (Santich, Orlando Sentinel, 7/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.