A public health scare is in full swing after it emerged a Missouri man could, over a ten year period, have infected more than 300 men with HIV.
David Mangum, a 37-year-old man from Dexter county, Missouri, is facing felony charges in Stoddard County Circuit Court after allegedly exposing a 29-year-old former partner to HIV without his ex-partner’s knowledge. His partner, named D.B. in court papers, tested positive in July of this year and subsequently filed a complaint with the police.
Mangum has apparently admitted to having unprotected sex with his former partner fully in the knowledge that his own HIV diagnosis, made in 2003, meant his partner was at high risk.
Mangum and his former boyfriend met on Craigslist in October 2012. The two moved in together on Nov. 9, 2012. During their relationship, they engaged in unprotected sex. The relationship is said to have ended in June when D.B. found out that Mangum had been cheated on him. As noted above, D.B. then found out he had contracted HIV. Mangum says he hid his HIV status because he feared rejection.
This defense might be on shaky ground, however, as Mangum has by his own admission a history of meeting people through Craigslist and, over a period of 10 years since his HIV diagnosis, may have amassed more than 300 sexual partners, including many beyond state lines, as he would frequently hook up with people simply passing through the state, and at least 50 in Stoddard County alone.
As such, Mangum has been unable to give details of the names or addresses of most of his sexual partners.
“This situation is a serious public health concern,” Russell Oliver, Stoddard County prosecuting attorney, is quoted as saying. “There are potentially 300 or more unknown victims that have been unknowingly exposed to HIV in this region. If any of those 300 individuals contracted the virus, all sexual partners of those victims have potentially been exposed.”
Since this story first hit the headlines, it has emerged another two men have become part of criminal proceedings against Mangum, claiming he may have exposed them to the virus.
The addition of the two men to the case on Friday saw the initial charge against Mangum of a Class A felony dropped to Class B, but with an additional 21 charges of sexual incidents. Both claim that Mangum expressly lied about his HIV status to them during their multiple sexual encounters. The men will not know for certain whether they have contracted the virus for a number of months yet.
Both of the newly added complainants are said to be in emotionally vulnerable states following being contacted by investigators.
It is very possible that charges against Mangum will continue to be added as more victims’ identities are secured and they are contacted. At the moment, Mangum is facing a life sentence and an additional 15 year sentence for his contact with the two newly added complainants.
Mangum is set to appear for a preliminary hearing in this case on September 26, with Judge Joe Z. Satterfield presiding.
Reports suggest there has been a sharp increase in HIV testing in and around Stoddard County as public health officials have urged anyone who is even unsure as to whether they could have been infected encouraged to undergo an anonymous HIV test through contacting the Stoddard County Public Health Center in Bloomfield.
It is important to note that people with HIV/AIDS face significant stigma across a number of spheres, with a case just last month highlighting that even public officials allow bias against HIV-infected persons to affect how they prosecute crimes involving sexual conduct where one partner is HIV infected.
However, while one could perhaps argue Mangum may have been more likely to disclose his HIV status had there been no stigma surrounding HIV infection, it seems that the only maleficence here has been Mangum’s own blatant disregard for the health of others.
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