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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 26, 2004
Contact:
 Jim Powers, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, 360-786-5540 Cell 360-259-4247
Tim Church, State Department of Health, 360-236-4077 Pager 360-534-0068

Officials Seek Possible Partners of HIV Infected Man


OLYMPIA – A Thurston County man was taken into custody this week, for allegedly having unprotected sex with multiple partners while knowing he was infected with the HIV virus.  Anthony Eugene Whitfield (b-1972 Oklahoma) was arrested at the home of a girlfriend the night of March 24th and booked into the Thurston County jail.  A preliminary hearing was held on the 25th and the court found probable cause to hold him on 3 counts of first-degree assault.  Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jim Powers says there is a lot more work to be done on the case.  "We are working closely with the Olympia Police Department on this matter, which is quite complicated.  We have until 5 PM on March 29th to file charges in the case and we may amend our preliminary charges depending on what is uncovered between now and then."  Whitfield has been ordered held on $250,000 bail.  Powers says the charges are very serious.  "Again, this is early in the case, but if he were found guilty of all three charges, the standard sentencing range for each count is 20 to 26.5 years in prison."

The Thurston County Health Department will be assisting the public with HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.  County Health Officer Doctor Diana Yu says the testing is confidential.  "We provide as much assistance as we can in what can be a very troubling time and we understand that people's privacy is very important."  She says the public and the media must also understand that there are matters that cannot be discussed.  "Federal health privacy law prohibits us from giving out anyone's name or even confirming or denying anyone's identity.  We also cannot discuss the health condition of anyone."

Prosecuting attorney Powers says they would like people who may have had sexual contact with Mr. Whitfield to come forward.  "We would like to encourage anyone who has had relations with this gentleman to obtain HIV counseling and testing and we would like to talk to them.  But in a larger sense, this is a reminder to anyone who engages in risky behavior; unprotected sex, multiple partners, or sharing drug needles, that they should be tested for AIDS."  All such testing is confidential.  The number of the Thurston County Health Department is 360-786-5581 or 360-709-3080. (Calls will be taken over the weekend.)

Another court hearing for Mr. Whitfield is scheduled for 3 PM on Monday, March 29th in Thurston County Superior Court.

The public can find out more information by visiting the State Department of Health web site at http://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/hiv.htm or by calling the statewide AIDS hotline at 800-272-AID

Photo available on request to Jim Powers.

*NOTE- General background information on HIV/AIDS can be obtained from the Washington State Department of Health through Tim Church at the numbers listed above.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3