Prosecutors have accused a former Missouri college student of knowingly exposing more than 30 sexual partners to HIV in four months -- as revealed by the man’s personal video collection of the encounters.
According to BuzzFeed former Lindenwood University student Michael Johnson was arrested and charged with recklessly risking infection of another with HIV on Oct. 10, after a five-month investigation on the wrestling state champion, which included a report from a man who said he was diagnosed with HIV and gonorrhea about a month after having sex with Johnson in his dorm room.
After finding many videos of the sexual encounters on the 22-year-old’s laptop, prosecutors now believe that his partners were unaware that Johnson was HIV-positive, or that they were being recorded.
"On that laptop were 32 videos engaged in sexual acts with Mr. Johnson, said St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar, who encouraged other partners to come forward. Obviously, for a victim to come forward is something that takes a lot of courage. They also have to know that they are going to be part of this public prosecution."
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, four more felony charges were filed in November 2013, after other partners came forward. Police said that Johnson, who may have met partners via his three Facebook pages, two Twitter feeds, Vine account or Instagram, (many using the handle "Tiger Mandingo") had covertly-filmed videos dating back to his days as a student.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office requests that anyone who may have had an intimate relationship with Johnson or who may have information pertinent to this investigation contact the St. Charles Detective Bureau at 636-949-3330.
The article set off a firestorm of controversial comments on BuzzFeed, from those who accused Johnson of murder to others who argued that HIV is a treatable disease, with accounts like this only serving to fuel the stigma surrounding it.
"It’s a good thing the person who infected me 30 years ago wasn’t sent to jail. He’d still be sitting there, or dead, while I’m still living a full life of good health," wrote commenter Mark S. King, a vlogger at My Fabulous Disease. "The references to ’murder’ and ’a death sentence’ are outdated and reactionary... Those of us who are demonizing this man are playing right into the hands of conservative prosecutors who are more than happy to put some ’diseased fags’ into jail. Many people with HIV already are serving 20 year sentences for daring to have sex -- and in many cases, no transmission occurred and protection was in place."