An Arkansas man pleaded guilty to deliberately contracting HIV in order to infect others, reports said Wednesday. Stephen Koch, 25, was in court Monday where he admitted planning to expose another person to HIV.
Koch also pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and eight counts of child pornography. According to Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Koch was originally arrested on drug charges, but police later got a tip regarding the man being in possession of child porn.
During a search of his computer, prosecutors found Koch had recently contracted HIV and attempted to infect others with the virus. Prosecutors told Circuit Judge Robin Green that Koch had plans to go on a double date. He wanted to lie about his HIV status on the date and spread the virus.
In court, Koch admitted to his crimes and said his actions were “self-destructive,” according to the Gazette. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison and was also registered as a sex offender.
“It’s very irritating that people do not take the disease serious enough,” Mark Williams, HIV survivor, reportedly said. “For somebody to have such low self esteem, and lack of worth that they would try to go out and do something that stupid is the only word I can think to use.”
HIV educator, Ruth Coker Burks, said Koch’s actions were an insult to those who suffer and have lost their lives to the virus.
“He was set out to destroy any and everything. It’s so unfortunate and awful when people have died just tried to live with this virus,” Burks reportedly said.
HIV is a virus that damages the immune system and results in AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). However, it is possible to contract HIV without developing AIDS. Without treatment, HIV can progress and can lead to death. This is a sexually transmitted disease. It can also spread through perinatal transmission and blood transmission.
The symptoms of early HIV infection may include fever, chills, joint pain, muscle aches, sore throat, sweats (particularly at night), enlarged glands, a red rash, tiredness, weakness and unintentional weight loss.