A young California HIV-positive man is suspected of knowingly infecting as many as 24 other men with HIV.
The California landscape architect is being charged with one count of willfully exposing himself, as an HIV-infectious individual, to another person, a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months in jail, and $1,000 fine.
According to reports, 29-year-old Thomas Guerra, who is also known as Ashton Chavez, is being accused of intentionally infecting as may as 24 other men with HIV. The accusations are being brought against Guerra by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office after his activities were allegedly made known to Guerra’s long-time boyfriend through Facebook.
The boyfriend, who requested anonymity, also discovered text messages on Guerra’s phone regarding intentionally spreading HIV.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of text messages where he’s talking about intentionally infecting people with HIV,” the boyfriend told CBS8. “Texts where he’s stating he’s negative to people then bragging to others about giving people his ‘positive load.’ It’s crude, it’s I don’t know how someone could treat another individual like that. I was hours away from proposing to this individual. This is someone that I loved, I’ve loved his family, I’ve spent multiple holidays with his family, he’s been home with me to my family. This is someone that I intended to spend the rest of my life with,” he said.
The original accuser also has text messages he provided to authorities that show Guerra was knowingly infecting other people with HIV.
“His weapon is using his body to infect these people. Why? I don’t know why he’s doing this. He’s forever changing these people’s lives and these people have no clue what’s happening to them,” Guerra’s accuser said.
Safety when it comes to sexual partners
There is no known cure for HIV, and though there have been positive strides and individual cases of the virus being eliminated from some patients, the majority of people who contract this virus will die as a result of it. Men in same-sex relationships carry the bulk of the HIV burden in the United States, and for that reason it is important for all men (and women) to be proactive about safe sex and HIV.
One of the most current recommendations for individuals at high-risk for HIV is the use of antiretroviral medication, such as Truvada, in combination with condoms. According to the World Health Organization, this preventative combo could limit the spread of HIV among men having sex with men by 20 to 25 percent throughout the next decade, potentially preventing 1 million infections.
The trick is convincing gay men of the need for dual protection.
“Its telling, how reluctant I am to talk about this, even anonymously, a gay New York City doctor with many gay patients told OUT in an interview, explaining the reluctance in the medical community to discuss a pill to prevent HIV comes from a fear condom usage will diminish. This isnt being talked about in our community at all, he said. Gay men talking about not using condoms is really stigmatized. Most of us have never known sex without condoms or without threat of a deadly disease. I think its a lot to ask an entire generation of gay men to use condoms forever.
The deliberate spread of HIV by Guerra is a reminder, however, that people who seem trustworthy can’t always be trusted. When it comes to HIV it is always better safe than sorry.