published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

More HIV victims speak out

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On Wednesday, James Hutchins was arrested and charged with giving HIV to his pregnant wife.

On Friday, at least four other women with HIV were linked to him.

One died in 2005 when she was 28 years old, documents show. She was the mother of three children.

One tested negative for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, on Friday after hearing the news of Hutchins’ arrest. She said she was grateful.

One was infected in 1992 and, with medication, says the virus is so scarce in her system now, it’s undetectable.

In 1997, one learned she was pregnant and HIV-positive in the same day. The woman, 41, takes medication and remains healthy, according to her family. But she pressed charges of criminal exposure to HIV against Hutchins. In 1999, he was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation.

But local HIV/AIDS experts say there are probably more women carrying the lingering effect of sex with Hutchins.

“It’s a domino effect. We’re going to have more people come in the door from this guy,” said Jerry Evans, assistant executive director of Chattanooga CARES, a local nonprofit that specializes in HIV and AIDS prevention,

People who test positive are told to disclose their status to sex partners, Evans said. “We’re very big talking about honesty and disclosure with partners.”

Hutchins didn’t, at least not all the time.

A few months ago, Hutchins’ 29-year-old pregnant wife went for lab work and learned she has the virus. She recently filed the charge of criminal exposure to HIV that landed him in Hamilton County Jail.

Hutchins, 46, could not be reached for comment on Friday and jail personnel declined to pass on an interview request. Hutchins declined an interview request earlier this week.

Denise Jennings is one of the lucky ones. Infected in 1992, she is living in Atlanta and doing well, with almost no trace of the virus still detectable in her body. But she still feels guilty for not doing a better job on getting the word out about Hutchins.

“He’s still hurting people,” she said. “That’s the hardest thing for me.

He needs to be stopped. That’s like someone putting a bullet in a gun and spinning it.”

And she feels especially bad for his new wife.

“I saw him and his wife last year,” she said. “I felt like, ‘I should tell her,’ but I didn’t. I thought he needs to do it. Even in seeing me, he couldn’t look at me. He dropped his head. And I just thought, ‘I just pray he’s doing the right thing.’”

Jennings said Hutchins was with a thin woman with three children in tow. His wife has three children from a previous relationship.

“[His wife] looked over at me. They were happy and smiling,” Jennings said. “It is so sad.”

The mother of the woman who charged Hutchins in 1999 said she wasn’t surprised when she heard the news that his wife had HIV and filed new charges against him. She remembers when he was first convicted.

“It was like he got a slap on the wrist,” the woman said. “What’s to stop him from doing it? They need to plaster his picture everywhere because people need to know. Somebody needs to tell them. There’s going to be plenty more, probably.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone is infected with HIV every 9 1/2 minutes. In Hamilton County, there are 1,425 people infected with HIV, according to 2009 statistics. About 100 people are infected each year in the Southeast Tennessee area, Evans said.

Evans said an HIV positive test result is not a death sentence any more.

“It’s all about letting them know, it’s not all over. You still have a life. This thing is more manageable than it’s ever been,” he said. “As long as you take your medication, 90 percent of our clients’ [viral counts] are undetectable. It doesn’t mean you don’t have HIV; it just means the viral load is tiny.

If convicted, Hutchins could receive a maximum sentence of six years in prison. According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his only conviction in Tennessee is his prior HIV charge.

His next court date is set for Aug. 2 before General Sessions Court Judge David Bale.

Jennings said she always disclosed her status to anyone she became intimate with.

“I tell my status before a handshake or a kiss,” said Jennings, who is now married. “And you can accept me or not.”

And she doesn’t mind sharing her story because it helps others.

“This is me. This is what happened and this is what could happen to you,” she said. “This can take anybody’s life. It doesn’t discriminate. You can go out and do something one time. It goes far and beyond. It’s still happening.”

To those infected, Jennings wants them to know there is life after testing positive.

“I’ve never been hospitalized,” Jennings said. “I have an undetectable viral load. I feel wonderful.”

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joetheplumber said...

This guy gets around like a tom cat. This story should not have ended on the note of "I feel wonderful" it sends the message to these people that they don't need to worry about HIV, they can be cured. I am sure the medications came through each one of their private insurance companies and was not a burdon on the taxpayer. This guy should be laid to rest and the whores need to be educated. I know I will catch grief over the "whore" statement but before you get carried away go back and read the artical again. "Jennings said she always disclosed her status to anyone she became intimate with" - these comments have me thinkng these are animals, not humans. Is there no shame whatsoever?

July 30, 2011 at 7:14 a.m.
rolando said...

What can we expect when our decadent society legalizes the promiscuous homosexual lifestyle -- even encourages it.

Look for more of the same...

July 30, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
WEBMAN said...

WOW. These women have to be very sleezy to sleep with this dude.Look at his face.My dog would not even sleep with this guy.What a bunch of scanks.They are just as guilty as he is for having unprotected sex.

July 30, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.
WEBMAN said...

@joetheplumber I totally agree with you on how this article ended."She feels wonderful". Way to go.Keep spreading your legs and the virus.

July 30, 2011 at 10:37 a.m.
metalguru said...

Funny how only homosexuals lead promiscuous lifestyles when the article is about a man infecting other women. You are a complete homophobic moron that needs to educate yourself before spouting off more fox news nonsense. So quick to point the finger and blame homosexuality because its easier not to think. You are probably a closet queer anyways...

July 30, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
rolando said...

metal---with what group did the disease really begin in this country, who regularly trolled the bathhouses of SanFran, who regularly practiced unsafe sex. They were and still are the main problem and the center of the AIDS disease, aided and abetted by their heroine, SanFran Mayor Feinstein.

Did you think this guy caught the disease off a toilet seat? Grabbing his toes, or maybe from a dirty needle or some pox-ridden whore would be a bit more likely, .

Facts are never homophobic...they only appear that way to homophiles -- who cannot abide anyone who frankly speaks truth.

Those times long predated FoxNews; the early/mid 80s.

I find it quite humorous that homophiles always cattily claim -- usually in a snit with spittle flying -- that their critics are "closet homos"...which is their last resort, of course.

July 30, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
rolando said...

They long predated the TEA Party as well, nooga

July 30, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.
rolando said...

I second that.

July 30, 2011 at 7:33 p.m.
kellaria said...

I can assure you all that there is more darkness in your souls than those of any of the homosexuals you so fervently despise. Speaking of facts, are you aware that the majority of HIV+ individuals on this planet are heterosexual women? Oh, that's right, they're all whores who deserve it.

You're twisted to take issue with the message of hope this poor woman was attempting to deliver to the women who have been robbed of their health and possibly their lives. It's pretty clear no one is trying to promote HIV infection in this case.

You're all sick, disgusting men to suggest any of these women deserve what's happened to them. Your own daughter, sister, mother, etc. could just as easily fall victim to the lies of a man she loves and trusts. You should be ashamed of yourself, as should every woman you know.

Skank, whore, go spread your legs... Seriously, do any of you know any women you care about? You're just as sick as the man who did this. You don't deserve respect because you obviously have none yourself.

And I'm pretty sure this woman - A WIFE AND MOTHER - did not mean to suggest she's some lascivious tramp by using the term 'intimate.' Anyone with half a brain would interpret that as a statement toward her being open about her HIV status to those close to her.

HIV was once a death sentence. Now it's not, and it's extremely important for those who become infected to understand they have options. That was her point - not go screw whomever you want cause all sexually active women are disease deserving sluts, you sick f**ks.

Men like you are the same men who'd say a girl wouldn't have been raped if she hadn't been asking for it. I hope your mothers disown you.

July 31, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
rolando said...

Wow. Tell us how you really feel, kellaria.

I don't believe anyone on here called the wife of this killer a whore. Try re-reading the article. You might see Jennings is the target of the comments you so abhor. She is worse than you think...she aided and abetted the killer when she refused to tell the killer's wife about him.

July 31, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.
mdarcy said...

you people are judgemental and oh so evil

November 16, 2011 at 2:21 a.m.
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