Diplomat kills Himself After Testing HIv+?

Police in New York City say that the wounds that killed a Nicaraguan diplomat may have been self-inflicted, despite their horrific nature.

Nicaraguan senior consulate officer Ce?sar Mercado was found dead in his apartment in the Bronx on Sept. 23, according to a New York Times article published the same day. The body was found that morning by Mercado’s driver just inside his unlocked apartment. Mercado had suffered knife wounds to the neck and abdomen. The door was shut and the apartment seemed in good order.

A Sept. 25 New York Daily News article said that, according to authorities, the presence of a shallow wounds might indicate that the injuries had been self-inflicted. The body showed evidence of what one investigator called “hesitation wounds--where you’re trying to see how painful it is.” Added the source, “He was re- ally feeling down and out for the last week.”

Police found two household knives in the bathroom. Considerable blood was also in the bathroom. One scenario posits that Mercado slashed his own neck and stabbed himself a dozen times in the abdomen while standing in the bathroom, and then made his way toward the front door before collapsing just short of reaching it.

As for motive, investigators theorize that Mercado might have killed himself because he had just learned that he was HIV-positive.

But strands of human hair were also found in Mercado’s hands, suggesting an alternative conclusion: that the diplomat was the victim of an attacker whose hair he pulled, possibly in self-defense. No definitive conclusions could be drawn from the results of the preliminary autopsy, the article said.

At least one friend of Mercado’s rejected the idea that the diplomat took his own life. “It was an animal, whoever did this,” Amparo Amador told the media. “He didn’t kill himself.”

Marcado’s death took place days prior to the second annual National Gay Men’s HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day. A Sept. 27 press re-

lease from the National AIDS Fund (NAF) noted the event and said that the organization “has long been committed to helping men who have sex with men (MSM)--both living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS--pre- vent the spread of the disease, and access the life-saving care they need if they are liv- ing with disease.

“The goals of National Gay Men’s HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day are to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among gay men; encourage HIV testing, early diagnosis and linkage to care; promote better understanding of the complex factors that drive HIV transmission among gay men; and obtain broad based support to acquire needed public and private resources and sound governmental policies to prevent new infections among gay men and to provide treatment for gay men living with HIV/AIDS,” the release added.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that nearly one in five American MSMs are living with HIV. Nearly half of them do not know it: an estimated 44% of HIV+ MSMs have not been tested for HIV. With testing, HIV+ individuals can begin life-saving treatments and take steps to ensure that they do not infect others in turn. Timely treatment is crucial for HIV+ individuals. By beginning treatment as soon as possible, health authorities say, HIV+ individuals have a greater chance of enjoying near-normal life expectancies.

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