Health Department warms of HIV tests following arrest of man

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Reporter - Kendall Downing
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

STODDARD COUNTY, Mo. - At the Stoddard County Public Health Center, the phone is ringing and people have a lot of questions.

"People are very aware of what's happening in our county right now," said Assistant Director Tom Roy.

Roy says you should know your HIV status and if you are having unprotected sex, the best thing to do is stop and take a blood test.

"If you choose to have sex, that means safe sex, which is condom use," Roy said.

Earlier this week, David Mangum was arrested and charged with not telling his sexual partner of his HIV positive status. Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver said there's no way to track a list of Mangum's victims or have any idea where they're from.

"Our primary effort in getting the word out is that we want people that may have been infected to know that they may be infected," Oliver said.

Mangum met his former partner on Craigslist, under the men seeking men tab.

"For us to find out the breadth of the victims that he has, we need these victims to come to us and tell us their story," Oliver said,

Roy says the Health Department is prepared to test anyone who walks through the door and investigators say if you have had sexual contact with Mangum to get tested.

Earlier story:

DEXTER, Mo. - A "serious public health concern."  The Dexter, Missouri Police Department says a man in custody admits to exposing not only one person, but hundreds to HIV.

David Mangum faces at least one charge after admitting to police that he had sex with a person without telling the victim he was HIV positive.

Dexter Police got wind of the situation after the victim filed a complaint against Mangum.  In the complaint, the the victim alleged the two had unprotected sex several times.  On multiple occasions, Mangum repeatedly denied that he had HIV when questioned by the victim.

After the two went their separate ways, the victim learned that Mangum had tested positive for the virus in 2003.  The victim confronted Mangum who admitted the truth.

A short time later, the complaint was filed.

Police tracked Mangum down and asked if the allegations were true.  He said they were and admitted to having at least 300 sex partners since testing positive for HIV.  Of that number, 50 to 60 were reportedly from the Stoddard County, Missouri area.  Mangum also told police he never disclosed he had HIV to any of his Stoddard County partners.

As a result of the investigation and its revelations, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell D. Oliver released the following statement.

"This situation is a serious public health concern. According to the allegations contained in the Probable Cause affidavit, 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.

According to the Probable Cause affidavit, 50 to 60 of those individuals exposed to HIV reside in the immediate area of Stoddard County. While a small number of the individuals that where exposed to HIV have been identified, countless others remain unknown. For multiple reasons, this information needs to get out to those individuals who may have unknowingly been exposed to HIV.

First to prevent further spread of this disease, any individual who may have been exposed should cease all sexual activity until they have been adequately tested for the virus. Secondly, all of these victims need to know that they have been exposed so they can individually seek medical treatment of this condition.

Due to the initial exposure group containing 300 or more individuals over an extended period of time, each of which could themselves have multiple sexual partners, this situation should be a serious concern to numerous individuals.  If you think there is a chance you or your partner could be infected, cease all sexual activity and get tested at your local county health department.

Of paramount concern, anyone who has participated in any sex act with an unknown male anywhere within this region who they met via "Craigslist- Men seeking Men" and especially an unknown male they met via this website from Stoddard County should take immediate precautions, cease all sexual activity, go to your local health department and get tested."

It is important to note that the filing of a criminal charge is an accusation, all persons so charged are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

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