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US authorities issue public health notice after sex worker with HIV beds over 211 men

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A commercial sex worker with HIV is believed to have gone on a sex escapade with over 200 unsuspecting men across multiple states in the United States of America, prompting the police to issue a health warning.

Linda Inez Leccese was charged on May 14, 2024, with soliciting after she tested positive for HIV, which is a third-degree felony, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“This case could stem anywhere from Florida up the East Coast, but there are local individuals that we will be reaching out to,” Ohio’s Washington County Sheriff’ Office Chief Deputy Mark Warden said during the press conference, as reported by The News and Sentinel.

“This investigation will continue and interviews will be done, again, to protect the public’s health to try to glean those other individuals who have been in contact with this individual.”

Warden said the investigation found that Ms Leccese continued soliciting work even after she had tested positive for HIV in 2022.

Now, both the sheriff’s office and the Marietta Police Department are in the process of contacting at least 211 people who may have been in contact with her based on the numbers found in a phone she used to conduct business as a sex worker.

“We want the citizens out there to understand that there will be a deputy sheriff reaching out to these individuals that we have numbers for,” Warden said. “They’re not in trouble, this is public health awareness. This is not a scam.”

At the press conference, Health Department Nursing Director Dianna Beck told the public the issue of people coming into contact with the HIV positive sex worker may go further back than 2022 because it takes 18-90 days to detect HIV antibodies in someone’s system.

Ms Beck added the incubation period for HIV is one to six weeks, so sometimes people don’t know they are HIV positive. Symptoms could include a sore throat, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes and other mono-like symptoms.

Health Department Administrator Barbara Bradley with the Marietta/Belpre Health Department was on hand at the press conference to help answer questions and help those who believe they may have been infected.

She said, “For this particular case with the Sheriff’s department we’re asking you to be tested, you and your family members.”

She added, “Please tell the receptionist that you are part of the sheriff’s case so they know where to direct your call to make an appointment or for more information.”

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