PORT ORANGE, Fla. — A Volusia County man has been accused of having sex without telling his partners of his HIV infection, and the sheriff's office is worried there may be more victims.
- Not disclosing an STD to a sexual partner is a crime in Florida
- Sheriff's office: Ex-girlfriend began reaching out to other women
- Detectives say they've identified 3 so far
Gentry Burns, 26, of Port Orange, was arrested after investigators say they identified three women who engaged in sexual activity with him without knowing he was HIV positive, which is a felony in Florida.
The sheriff's office says they began investigating after an ex-girlfriend reported that she believed she contracted HIV from Burns while dating him in 2013. The woman began reaching out to other women to warn them.
Detectives confirmed through medical records that Burns was diagnosed HIV positive in 2014. They say they identified three victims, including one who was diagnosed HIV positive in 2017 after dating Burns in 2016.
The sheriff's office says Burns was already in the jail on unrelated charges, and will stay there without bond now.
Importance of Knowing Your Status
Director of Operations at "The Center" Joel Junior Morales helps people understand the importance of getting tested and knowing your status.
"The most important thing for someone who is living with HIV is to get connected with medication and support, because medication and preventative measures have come so far along," he said.
The Center in Orlando does 600-700 HIV screenings every month, and they offer free confidential STI testing seven days a week. With the "Sure Check" they use gives results in 15 minutes.
“It is important for people to get tested regularly if they don't know their status their HIV status, Morales explained. “Someone could be living with HIV for 10 years and not realize they are living with HIV. Actually one out of every three people living with HIV don't know."
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health shared the following information with us:
- The Florida Department of Health in Orange County encourages everyone who is sexually active to know their HIV status. With early diagnosis, individuals can begin appropriate treatment and care resulting in better health outcomes.
- In addition, the department encourages individuals to use safe sex practices and condoms.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all individuals 13–64 years old be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime, and persons at increased risk for HIV infection be tested at least annually.
- In an effort to eliminate HIV infections, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County offers Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication.
- Taking PrEP daily reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. Persons taking PrEP should also continue to use other proven prevention strategies, including condoms and safer sexual practices.
Detectives say anyone who dated Gentry Burns and believes they might be at risk should see a doctor and call the sheriff's office at 386-248-1777.