MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office arrested a man they say knowingly has HIV but didn't tell his sexual partners. County leaders say his actions are not only criminal, but also a public health concern.
"We are currently conducting an investigation that we view not only as criminal, but a public health menace," Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said.
It's a community wide concern that has Massee working a first of its kind case in Baldwin County. Deputies obtained an arrest warrant for 21-year-old Robert Wayne Stevenson of Milledgeville. He was arrested last Monday and charged with one count reckless conduct by an HIV infected person.
"You cannot knowingly have sexual relations with someone where you could possibly infect them," Massee said.
Massee tells 41NBC the investigation started when a victim came forward and told the sheriff's office she contracted the virus after having a sexual relationship with Stevenson.
"They [the victim] think they obtained this virus from the individual and he gave her no disclosure," Massee said. "He gave her no information that he is HIV positive."
Massee says that is illegal. Baldwin County District Attorney Fred Bright says by law, if you have HIV you must tell your partner before anything sexual happens.
"Not giving the victim the opportunity to make an informed decision whether or not to have sex with an HIV infected person, that's the main gist of this crime," Bright said.
Massee and Bright say they are concerned with how fast this virus could spread.
"We're looking at one person who may have contaminated one other person and this person in turn may have infected two or three other people," Massee said. "We think it's a terrible public health issue facing our community."
"It could geometrically multiply and its obviously something from a community health stand point nobody wants to happen," Bright said.
Stevenson is currently booked in the Baldwin County jail on no bond. If convicted, he could face anywhere from one to 10 years in prison, probation, or both. Stevenson could also face the same charge in Laurens County as well as a statutory rape charge.
Massee urges anyone who has had a sexual relationship with Stevenson to first contact your doctor and get a blood test and then call the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office at (478) 445-4891.