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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — A former Lindenwood University student faces additional charges accusing him of exposing four more people to the HIV virus that causes AIDS without the victims' knowledge.
St. Charles County prosecutors charged 22-year-old Michael L. Johnson in October with potentially exposing a 19-year-old Lindenwood student to the virus. Police said Johnson and the victim had unprotected sex in the wrestler's Lindenwood dorm after Johnson was diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Police asked anyone else who had an intimate relationship with Johnson to contact investigators.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports prosecutors last week added four felony charges to the initial charge. The St. Charles County prosecutor's office says the additional counts of recklessly risking infection of another with HIV were developed in the investigation.
Johnson's lawyer didn't immediately return a call for comment.
NEW YORK (AP) — Doctors may one day be able to control a patient's HIV infection in a new way: injecting swarms of germ-fighting antibodies, two new studies suggest.
In monkeys, that strategy sharply reduced blood levels of a cousin of HIV. The results also gave tantalizing hints that someday the tactic might help destroy the AIDS virus in its hiding places in the body, something current drugs cannot do.
The study results "could revolutionize efforts to cure HIV" if the approach is found to work in people, said a commentary published Wednesday by the journal Nature along with the monkey studies.
Antibodies are proteins in the blood that grab onto specific germs and mark them for elimination. People infected with HIV naturally make antibodies to fight the AIDS virus, but they are generally ineffective. The two new studies used lab-made versions of rare antibodies with unusual potency against HIV.
One study of rhesus monkeys showed a profound effect from a single injection of antibodies, said lead author Dr. Dan Barouch of Harvard and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The 18 animals had been infected with SHIV, a monkey version of HIV. In 13 animals, blood levels of SHIV became undetectable by standard tests within a week of the treatment. After the antibodies petered out, the virus came back. That happened one to three months after treatment.
In three monkeys with the lowest levels of SHIV before treatment, the virus didn't return during an observation period of up to eight months. Barouch said the animals were not cured, but the treatment had apparently improved their immune systems enough to keep the virus in check.
The two other monkeys started with the highest blood levels of SHIV. Treatment lowered those levels but not to the point where they were undetectable.
The second study in Nature, from the National Institutes of Health, showed encouraging results in a smaller group of monkeys.
In people, standard drugs routinely tamp down HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. But the antibody approach may someday help doctors attack virus that's hiding in infected cells, beyond the reach of today's drugs, said the Nature commentary by Dr. Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Louis Picker of the Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton.
In theory, antibodies might activate the body's immune system to kill those infected cells, they wrote. Barouch's results hinted at such an effect, they noted. Virus levels dropped faster in the monkeys than they do when people get standard HIV drugs, and when the monkey virus returned, it generally didn't reach its pre-treatment levels. Barouch also found virus levels reduced in cells and tissues after treatment.
The findings of the two studies are "provocative" about prospects for attacking HIV's hiding places, Deeks said in a telephone interview.
"These studies raised more questions than they answered," he said. "But that's how science advances."
Online: Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature
Four more potential victims came to police today, saying they had sex with 22-year-old Michael Johnson, who is accused of knowingly spreading HIV.
Johnson was charged on Thursday for recklessly risking infection of another with HIV--a charge that carries a 30 year prison term if he is convicted. Johnson was a member of the Lindenwood University wrestling team who learned his HIV-positive status in January. Prosecutors say he then engaged in sexual activity with at least one victim without disclosing the diagnosis. Court documents say the victim contracted HIV from Johnson.
The St. Charles Police Department is asking any other individuals who may have been in an intimate relationship with Johnson to contact the Detective Bureau at (636) 949-3320.
A former wrestler at Lindenwood University if accused of exposing a former student to HIV.
Prosecutors say 22-year-old Michael Johnson faces a charge of "recklessly risking infection of another when infected with HIV." The victim said he met Johnson through social media. Health officials say that although chances of contracting HIV through exchange of bodily fluids while wrestling are extremely rare, anybody who had contact with Johnson should consider consulting a physician.
Investigators are asking anybody that may have been in an intimate relationship with Johnson to contact the St. Charles County Police.