clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

HIV scare spreads fear in N.Y. region

Nushawn Williams stares out from the flier, a warning printed above his mug shot and his street names - Face, Shoe, Shyteek, JoJo - listed below.

It could be a wanted poster. But the 20-year-old drifter with a bullet in his leg and a stabbing scar behind his ear already is behind bars.Concerned health officials from rural western New York to New York City helped institute the poster campaign to warn Williams' sex partners that he may have given them the virus that causes AIDS - knowingly in some cases, authorities contend.

The warning is one young people may not hear enough. Some of the 500 parents and youths at a town meeting Wednesday night said it was no use reciting statistics and warnings - seeing is believing.

"Let them talk to people with AIDS," said Sherry Wright, a mother of eight. "Everyone sees people who have cancer or are starving."

The meeting was called in response to a rash of HIV cases, all linked to Williams. Nine young women - the youngest is now 14 - were infected with the virus after having sex with Williams. Authorities believe he spread the virus to young women he met at parks and near schools after he was diagnosed and received counseling about his HIV status.

The threat of infection is on the minds of many around this region. Chautauqua County health officials said Williams gave them the names of some 20 sexual partners - and he gave New York City health officials dozens more names last week.

The forum - "HIV/AIDS: How do we protect our kids?" - opened with an AIDS lesson and a plea for anyone with doubts to be tested.

The situation has left parents and teachers wondering whether their messages about the dangers of unprotected sex are getting through.

"They think they're invincible," said teacher Linda Taylor, whose children are 12 and 14. "I don't think this has anything to do with them not being told" about HIV.