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National News

Florida: HIV Patient Could Get Prison Time

May 20, 2002

An HIV-infected Orlando man will stand trial today, charged with violating a Florida law that makes it illegal for people with the virus to have unprotected sex without first informing their partners of the infection.

Pedro Vega is charged with one count of uninformed HIV-infected sexual intercourse after having unprotected sex with an Orange City woman numerous times between 1994 and 2000. Vega could serve up to five years in prison if convicted. Pat Gilliam, a clinical consultant at the Florida AIDS Education and Training Center, said the frequency of criminal cases involving HIV transmission has increased in recent years as more states pass laws requiring disclosure. According to the Department of Corrections, six people have gone to prison for the crime in Florida, though most of those were simultaneously convicted of additional sex or drug charges. Seventeen people have been convicted of the crime and sentenced to probation.

The woman, whose name was deleted from court files because of the sexual nature of the charges, has not tested positive for the disease, Assistant State Attorney Amy Walker said. The woman met Vega, now 42, in 1993 at El Jibarito Restaurant in Deltona, and they started dating, according to a statement by the woman in court records. "He had unprotective [sic] sex, never told me he had a deadly disease," the statement said.

Vega's attorney, Jim Henson, would not discuss the case. Vega's former live-in girlfriend, Nancy Burch of Deltona, went to police after she found out he was secretly having affairs and "unprotected sex with several women," according to court records. Burch said she had abstained from sex with Vega since 1993 when he was diagnosed with HIV. Burch, who has never tested positive for the virus, helped Vega with his medical treatments and attended classes with him on HIV/AIDS until she broke off their relationship because she found out he was having affairs.

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Adapted from:
Orlando Sentinel
05.20.02; Beth Kassab


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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