HIV infected Mich. man hit with bioterror charge for biting another man

Bioterrorism charges were leveled against a Michigan man who, in the course of a fight with his neighbor, bit him. The biter in the case, authorities learned, was HIV positive.

Daniel Allen has entered a plea of not guilty before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Peter Maceroni to the charge. Allen is accused of biting Winfred Fernandis, Jr.'s lip during the October 18 fight.

In addition to charges of assault and assault with intent to maim, the biter was hit with a bioterrorism charge under a 2004 Michigan law, passed following the September 11, 2001 terroist attacks, that speaks of “possession or use of a harmful device." The authorities cited a Michigan Court of Appeal's ruling that HIV infected blood was a "harmful biological substance" under Michigan law in adding the bioterror charge.

This case is set to be the first time wherein prosecutors will link laws aimed at stopping terrorist acts to an HIV infection.

Catherine Hanssens, executive director for the Center for HIV Law and Policy in New York told the Michigan Messenger that the depiction of HIV as a weapon of bioterror was, "the boogey-man characterization of people with HIV.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has said that is has only one case on record that it believes shows HIV transmitted through a human bite. In that case, an older man in South Carolina claiming no other risk factors cited a bite by a sex worker as his means of infection with HIV.