South Dakota University Student Charged With Intentionally Exposing Sex Partner to HIV; Number of People Affected Could Reach HundredsSouth Dakota law enforcement officials have charged an 18-year-old man with intentionally exposing a young woman to HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports. The case, which has already led to the discovery of two other new infections and could lead hundreds of others to get tested, has "rocked" South Dakota, which recorded only 22 new HIV cases last year. Nikko Briteramos, a freshman basketball player at Huron University in Sioux Falls, tested positive for HIV last month after he attempted to donate blood (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 4/27). State Department of Health officials then interviewed him to find out who he might have exposed to the virus so that they could be contacted and tested (Gale, Associated Press, 4/25). On Tuesday, Briteramos told health officials that he had been dating a woman for three weeks and had engaged in unprotected sex with her five times after he learned that he was HIV-positive without informing her of his status (Chicago Tribune, 4/26). A 2000 state law makes it a crime for someone with HIV to engage knowingly in sex or share a needle without first informing the other of his or her HIV status (Associated Press, 4/25). "After [Briteramos] knew that he was HIV positive ... he was discovered having unprotected sex with a partner who did not know," Gov. Bill Janklow (R) said Friday during a teleconference, adding, "That, my friends, is no different from pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger" (Los Angeles Times, 4/27).
Following the Chain
Briteramos was immediately arrested and is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond. Test results have not come back on the woman in question, but two of Briteramos' other known sex partners have tested positive for HIV. However, no charges have been filed in those cases because there is "no evidence" that Briteramos knew he had the virus at the time of those relationships, and it is not known if he in fact transmitted the virus to them (Associated Press, 4/25). Briteramos could face 70 years in prison if convicted (Thorson, KELO-TV, 4/25). Health officials have tested at least 50 other people known to have had sexual relations with Briteramos and the two women who have tested positive, but so far, none of those tests have come back positive (Associated Press, 4/25). One of the people tested said that about 70 others might need to be screened, and the "chain will undoubtedly run into the hundreds before everyone is tested," Janklow said. For "anyone who has multiple sex partners, it's reasonable to assume that some of those sex partners have had multiple sex partners, and that's how the chain starts," he added (AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/27). Janklow said the events have been "sobering" for South Dakota, which the Times reports has "consistently ranked second lowest in HIV infection rates" nationwide (Los Angeles Times, 4/27). There have been 397 HIV cases recorded in the state since 1985, and 193 of those cases have progressed to AIDS, according to statistics released by the state in January (Associated Press, 4/25). A news segment discussing the story is available online from Sioux Falls, S.D.-based KELO-TV.