A SWAT team arrested Tony Perkins, 47, of Greenwood, Indiana on Friday, after a tip by a former girlfriend that he was HIV+ and was knowingly infecting women by having unprotected sex. He was charged under Indiana law with "failure of carriers of dangerous communicable diseases to warn persons at risk (a Class D felony) and intimidation."
Mr Perkins allegedly was looking to infect women, because, according to the ex-girlfriend, "His quotes were 'a whore gave it to me, so if a whore wants to sleep with me on the first night, she deserves what she gets.'"
Police have begun an investigation into Perkins' phone and internet records in order to contact potential victims. They are also posting his picture on television, newspapers and the internet in order to get other potential partners to come forward.
I've touched on the subject of HIV+ gay men as predators before, but this brings up a whole new set of questions - most of them not easy to ask.
I've worked with a few HIV+ women, but my primary experience has been with HIV+ men, gay, bi and straight. The few women I've worked with or talked to were mostly infected through IV drug use or prostitution, so I'm obviously not well-acquainted with the whole picture. I am interested, however, in being educated. I want to know more women's general feeling about being at risk for HIV.
One of the things I consistently face in rural communities is the disbelief that HIV can be transmitted through straight sex. "Condoms are for the gay boys," some male college students have told me - in many ways, and more often than I'd like. A group of college age girls I recently talked to about HIV told me "We don't have to worry. It's not really here." When I reply that in my HIV+ support group in that very community, there are several young men who are straight - and sexually active, it catches them by surprise.
I also know that in many rural areas there are quite a few married men who are having sex with other men. In my work, it's something that I no longer am shocked or surprised by. It's become quite common, actually... I worry that many women aren't aware of the facts, statistics, circumstances and possible ramifications of unprotected sex with a stranger.
But back to some questions I have:
- Are women different than (gay) men when it comes to seeing/taking responsibility for protected sex?
- Are some (straight?) people really that naive, or are they simply showing a strong form of denial in having regular risky sex?
- Is our society so revenge-driven (I could easily name ten movies in the last year with this theme) that it makes it an acceptable logical step for this man to seek some twisted sense of revenge?
- What does this man's statement say, if anything, about our society's view of whores? Who's a whore? Why are they worthless in his/our eyes?
- What does the arrest of this man say to other HIV+ persons?
- Is this felony classification outdated, especially as it falls under the homicide statute?
Definitely questions to ponder. As always, your thoughts are encouraged and welcome.
Personally, I think the man's a danger to society (not to mention continued HIV services in Indiana as each infected person costs tens of thousands of dollars a year), is probably mentally ill and definitely needed to be stopped. That part's relatively easy for me to determine.
The harder part is, "What contributed to this mess in the first place?" I'm not sure we'll ever know, but maybe we can prevent it from happening again.