AIDS scare probe extends to New York City, Rochester
October 28, 1997
Web posted at: 3:22 p.m. EST (2022 GMT)
MAYVILLE, New York (CNN) -- The trail of an HIV-positive man suspected of infecting women and girls as young as 13 extends beyond rural Chautauqua County in western New York state where an outbreak that may involve dozens of people was first reported.
Health officials in New York City and Rochester, New York, were conducting their own investigations in the case of Nushawn Williams, State Health Commissioner Dr. Barbara DeBuono announced on Tuesday.
Health officials said Williams, 20, has been linked to at least 10 HIV cases in Chautauqua County and may be indirectly responsible for exposing many other people to the virus that causes AIDS. An indirect or "secondary" exposure could occur when a woman who had sex with Williams became infected and later spread the infection to another sexual partner.
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"In Monroe County (where Rochester is located) there are some four secondary cases that are being investigated," DeBuono told reporters at a news conference in the Chautauqua County community of Mayville.
|Dr. Berke discusses Williams' possible strategy
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She said there was no evidence that Williams had direct ("primary") sexual contact with anyone in the Rochester area. "What we believe is that one of his primary contacts from (Chautauqua County) traveled to Rochester and had contact with other individuals."
She also said her staff is investigating whether "this case will extend beyond" Rochester and New York City. There was evidence Williams had been in the Syracuse, New York, area but he "did not engage in sexual activity there," DeBuono said.
Dr. Robert Berke, the Chautauqua County Health Commissioner, told the news conference, "It appears, based on our interviews with him, this guy is some kind of scorekeeper. He keeps a tally of his activities and so there is some degree of comfort in the (accuracy of) the names he's divulging."
Williams, who is currently jailed in New York City on unrelated drug charges, tested positive for HIV on August 15, 1996, and was counseled about it three weeks later, according to Berke.
Williams frequently traveled between New York City and western New York, and may have had a large number of sexual contacts in other New York counties, health officials have said.
"He left here in January (1997). He was incarcerated in September (1997). That's a long time for a guy with this kind of sexual activity to be on the loose somewhere else," Berke told CNN in a live interview on Tuesday.