published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Chattanooga wife says husband gave her HIV

After a doctor called with the lab results, life would never be the same for a 29-year-old Chattanooga woman.

She learned her husband of nearly five years had given her HIV. He'd never even told her he had it, even though she's pregnant with his child.

"That day changed my life forever," she said. "Just because he didn't pull the trigger doesn't mean this is not a murder."

Now James Hutchins, 46, is in Hamilton County Jail facing a charge of criminal exposure to HIV -- the second time he has been arrested for the offense. In 1999, he received a six-month jail sentence and was placed on probation for five years when he infected someone else, according to court records.

"He was there when I found out I was pregnant. He was there when they drew the blood. He knew the secret was going to come out," said the woman, who asked not to be named. "He moved out April 4; I found out April 6."

When she confronted him about the pregnancy test results, he denied he was HIV positive and said he was going to be tested, she said.

The child growing inside her may be positive, too. Although she's seven months pregnant, she said she doesn't know.

Antiviral medication can be given to pregnant mothers to try to prevent spreading HIV to the fetus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cesarean delivery also can be used to protect the infant, the CDC says.

Hutchins declined an interview request Thursday. He remains in jail on a $10,000 bond and his next court date is set for Aug. 2 in front of General Sessions Court Judge David Bales.

After finding out she was HIV positive, a friend told her stepfather that Hutchins was positive, too, and had a prior conviction for giving someone else HIV.

The couple met online in 2006 and married in 2007. At the time she met him, she was working two jobs to support her three children from a previous relationship.

"To marry me and go into a church in front of God with a pack of lies," she said. "His father told me he had a wild lifestyle. I didn't. Now I'm being punished. People are going to look at me differently all because somebody lied to me. I'll never know why he did it. ... This man lied to me the whole way through."

Jerry Evans, assistant executive director of Chattanooga CARES, a local nonprofit organization that focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, said it's rare that people don't disclose their HIV status. If Hutchins is not taking medication, the risk is higher to pass on the virus, Evans said.

Hutchins has never been treated by CARE, Evans said.

And Hutchins' wife said that, during the five years they were together, he never took medication to treat HIV.

"Everyone who is HIV positive needs to be on HIV medicine," Evans said.

Hutchins' wife said he was hospitalized in 2008 for pneumonia, but doctors never told her that he was HIV positive.

"If they offered him treatment, he probably declined [treatment] to keep [his illness] a secret," she said.

As of 2009, there were 1,425 HIV infected people in Hamilton County, Evans said, and about 100 more people in Southeast Tennessee test positive each year.

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 percent of all HIV-infected people are unaware they are positive.

Hutchins' wife said he was seeing other women before they separated.

"I know I'm helping other women to find out," she said. "I knew he was cheating. They probably have not come forward."

If convicted, Hutchins could be jailed from three to six years.

"I think six years is too lenient," his wife said. "They say it's not a death sentence now. Your health can always take a turn for the worst."

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gmomma said...

'Wife' should have taken steps to protect herself by demanding a health test before and during her relationship with this monster. Does anybody do background checks anymore?? If she had just checked his background (public record) then she would not be in this hell.

July 29, 2011 at 4:31 a.m.
macropetala8 said...

gmomma, what good would that have done? He could have still lied about the test result. His medical records would be part of a background check? Isn't releasing medical info of any kind without consent about an individual illegal? If an individual wants to hide or lie about a medical condition, even HIV, it wouldn't be at all difficult. I don't know if this individual looked like his picture when the two met. However, if he looked anyway close to his picture, that should have been a sign that he was ill. Personally, anyone who meets someone online is taking a serious risk. If not this, he could have turned out to be a criminal or swindler.

July 30, 2011 at 3:44 a.m.
ltlred said...

this is why you don't sleep with people BEFORE having joint tests done. people give themselves so freely anymore and then worry about the consequences later! i am not saying that this guy is not at fault, he should have told her BUT it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to take care of and protect yourself.

July 30, 2011 at 9:24 a.m.
rolando said...

Whatever happened to the pre-nuptial bloodtests?

By all indications, the homosexuals and the homophile activists in our society killed that requirement,

July 30, 2011 at 9:55 a.m.
iggiepops64 said...

@rolando: Exactly how do you equate HIV+ status with homosexualty? What world do you live in? The majority of HIV/AIDS cases are among HETEROSEXUAL people. Once again you showed your ignorance about life in general. Before commenting, you might want to read up on the facts, that's if you know how to read. As far as this case is concerned, six years if convicted is really a joke. Life WITHOUT parole is the only option for this obvious habitual offender. As for his wife, even though he has given her a life sentence, with today's medication regime, she can live a very long life. It now is up to her to take control of her health. Unfortunately, it took something like this for her to understand that she is, ultimately, the only person reponsible for her health. I pray for her and her unborn child, that it test negative at birth.

July 30, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
rolando said...

You skittered around my question, iggie. What happened to the blood tests?

I lived in the essentially pre-AIDS world of the 80s, iggie. In the US, it essentially a homosexual's disease in those days.

That was its beginning here. Even knowing how AIDS was contracted, in SanFran they still practiced unsafe sex -- with a myriad of one-night, multiple partner stands -- and died like flies...

That is the nexus.

And those, iggie, are the facts.

AIDS was a terminal illness and death within five years was the norm.

July 30, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.
gmomma said...

@ Macropetal8, he was convicted and served time for infecting a woman. This is a criminal charge and is in public records. It is not medical records! And any woman should go with a man to be tested.

July 30, 2011 at 6:34 p.m.
rolando said...

True, gmomma, but the test results are not releasable under federal law. You know, the same law that keeps our Legislature's rehab records from showing up in the news.

July 30, 2011 at 7:37 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

Stop giving away medications and let HIV die out. Jail and isolate anyone found to be a carrier. Sounds cold but the results will cause people to take this serious.

July 30, 2011 at 9:23 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Good. They posted his picture over on a different article.

July 30, 2011 at 9:57 p.m.
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