An HIV-positive man who might have consciously passed on the deadly virus to more than 200 sexual partners has been arrested in Italy.
A spokesman for police in Ancona, a city on Italy’s eastern Adriatic coast, told dpa on Thursday that 35-year-old Claudio Pinti had been arrested two days earlier.
Despite having been diagnosed “for at least 11 years,’’ he did not take precautions nor warn his partners about his condition, Ancona police said in a written statement.
When officers apprehended him, Pinti declared himself a “negationist’’ on the existence of HIV, police said.
The virus is known to cause AIDS.
In a press conference on Wednesday, police said Pinti was a regular user of dating websites and might have infected more than 200 people.
He was caught after one of his most recent partners checked herself into hospital after feeling ill and discovered she had contracted the virus.
Authorities urged potential victims to contact police, and in a breach of usual practice, released a picture of the suspect so people could recognise him.
The police spokesman said several calls have come in and are being verified.
“People are very reluctant to come forward because of the shame,’’ he said.
Thanks to medical advances, life expectancy for HIV and AIDS patients has greatly increased in recent years, but the disease still killed one million people in 2016, according to the World Health Organisation.
In a similar case in 2017, a Rome court sentenced a man to 24 years’ imprisonment for infecting more than 30 people with HIV, including a pregnant woman who passed on the disease to her son.