HIV stigma impedes police investigation 

Police in Italy are struggling to identify more than 200 people, most of them women, who are at risk of having contracted HIV from a “truther” who hid his HIV-positive status from his partners because he didn't believe the disease was real.  

Janna Brancolini
Janna Brancolini Kheiro Magazine, Italy
Source: Kheiro Magazine
HIV stigma impedes police investigation  - NewsMavens
AIDS virus, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

For almost a decade, Claudio Pinti, a 35-year-old truck driver, knew he was HIV positive but didn’t inform his sexual partners  --  mostly women but also some men  --  because he was convinced the disease didn’t really exist.

He was finally arrested in his home last week after his partner learned she was infected and reported him.

Now, the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is hampering police efforts to identify the more than 200 other possible victims.

The UN reports that stigma and discrimination are among the foremost barriers to HIV prevention, treatment and care worldwide. Fear of discrimination -- including accompanying violence -- can discourage people from even getting tested out of fear their status will be disclosed to family members.

Italy especially suffers among industrialized nations from a lack of understanding about the disease, its causes and the prognosis for people living with HIV today. As recently as 2016, a study commissioned by an Italian nonprofit for HIV-positive individuals found that 1 in 3 adults over age 45 still thought of HIV as a “plague” or a “gay cancer.”

Details from the story:

  • A 35-year-old truck driver from Ancona, Italy was arrested last week after he failed to inform his girlfriend that he was HIV positive and she contracted the disease. 
  • The man insists that HIV is not real and that he himself does not suffer from it -- despite having tested positive almost a decade ago. 
  • Using Pinti’s phone and computer records, police concluded that up to 228 people might have had unprotected sex with Pinti; they are now trying to identify possible victims. 
  • Ancona’s head of police appeared on TV for two hours today to discuss the “delicate” case, and implored anyone who has been sexually active with Pinti not to be afraid to come forward despite the stigma surrounding HIV.
  • Police so far have confirmed that Pinti infected at least three women, including his former partner and his late ex-wife.
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