Yesterday, we reported on the troubling accusations against David Mangum, a 37-year-old Dexter man who police say admitted to knowingly exposing more than 300 sexual partners to HIV. As Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver told Daily RFT yesterday, the concern extends well beyond his direct sexual partners: "Each could have partners of their own and those partners need to be informed."
We since got a chance to speak with Debbie Pleimling, director of the Stoddard County Public Health Center, who tells us that, in response to the news, there has already been a noticeable jump in patients seeking STD tests.
"We're just wanting to get the message out that if you've had any contact or you are at risk," she says, "get tested and get your results and get started on treatment if it's positive. And do protect yourself."
The accusations, which came out last week, and started getting national attention on Wednesday, are that Mangum has known he was HIV positive since 2003, but has not disclosed that fact to the hundreds of sexual partners he has had since them. Many of them, according to police, were in Stoddard county in southeast Missouri.
Mangum reportedly met a lot of his partners on Craigslist and did not use protection.
The allegations came to light when one of his recent partners -- who had lived with him for a short period of time and had repeated unprotected sex with him -- tested positive for HIV and confronted Mangum about it.
Prosecutors say that Mangum admitted his deception to this victim, who filed a formal complaint, and then waived his Miranda Rights with cops and confessed to them as well that he knowingly exposed hundreds of others.
The Stoddard public health center typically sees about three people a week who want free STD tests, Pleimling says.
Since news started spreading last week of Mangum's charges, she says the center has seen about fifteen people.
That number could grow as the story continues to make headlines.
And local residents could also be getting tested through several other means, such as their primary care provider, she notes.
"It's expected when you have something like this in the news, it's going to bring people out," she says, "regardless of whether they've had actual contact with this individual."
She says she is not sure if the spike comes from men who may have been exposed to HIV by Mangum directly, but points out that a frightening story like this incentivizes people to get checks.
"Testing is something that needs to be done regularly," she adds.
While it is a "sensational story," she continues, "We area taking it day to day and doing our job. It is a big story, but we're taking it in stride and doing what we need to do."
Mangum, who is facing a felony charge for recklessly and knowingly infecting a victim with HIV, is behind bars with bond set at $250,000 cash only. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.
Here is the full probable cause statement: