August 31, 2010
The Sedgwick County Department of Health is working with McConnell Air Force Base officials to contact the sexual partners of a sergeant who may have knowingly exposed people to HIV at swinger events in the Wichita area during the past three years. The man used adult websites to meet strangers for sex encounters, a practice that has become commonplace, officials said.
"A lot of this stuff is underground," said Jason Ybarra, the county's senior disease intervention specialist. "A lot of people don't openly say, 'Yeah, we're swingers. We hit these parties all the time.'"
U.S. District Court documents allege the man "engaged in numerous, unprotected sexual acts with a multitude of sexual partners over the course of three years." The man contacted the sexual partners he had been with while stationed overseas regarding his HIV status, his spouse said in an affidavit, but he did not notify the men and women he had been with since arriving at McConnell in 2008. An online profile shows he attended 21 swinger parties from January 2009 to July this year, according to court documents, which allege he did not disclose he is HIV-positive.
The sergeant was arrested on Aug. 9 in the course of an undercover military investigation. He was ordered to pretrial confinement on the McConnell base, where he now remains ahead of a September hearing. He has not been charged.
County health officials said the case may represent the largest HIV exposure investigation in recent memory.
"Obviously, we want to do this quickly," Ybarra said. "If someone feels they may have been exposed through this incident or any other incident, get tested rather than sit back and not get tested."
Under Kansas law, it is a felony to knowingly expose someone to a life-threatening communicable disease through sex, sharing needles or donating body fluids.