GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Police are currently aware of the identity of only one of the victims who they say a man intentionally infected with HIV.
"He's charming," the alleged victim -- who didn't want to be identified -- said of suspect David Smith, "He's very charming."
Smith, 51, was arrested last week after he went to police. Authorities said Smith told them that he intentionally had sex with as many people as he could over the past three years. He said his plan was to infect them with HIV, which was meant to kill them, court records show.
The victim 24 Hour News 8 spoke with is the only victim that Smith has been charged with infecting so far.
When asked what she thought about the fact that Smith turned himself in to police, she said, "It's something he should have done years ago. He shouldn't get a pat on the head for what he did."
"I was diagnosed (with HIV) October 18, 2008," the alleged victim said. "It's hard, though. It's really hard, but support is key and getting the right treatment is key."
She also said she wasn't surprised by the fact that he went to police. "He has this way of being the hero in the beginning. Like he's the problem solver, the hero, he's doing the right thing," she said. "Then something horrible will happen and then he's the victim. So this is probably his 'victim song.'"
Smith told police there are "thousands" of victims. His alleged victim said she believes that claim, calling him "a predator" and "a sociopath."
Investigators allege that Smith had sex with the woman who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 and didn't inform her of his HIV status between early June and mid-October of 2008.
24 Hour News 8 found Smith's Facebook page Tuesday night. It showed posts dating back to September of this year. One post said, in part:
"When you are young you believe people will love you like you want and keep an eye out for those scandulous people...as you get older you realize most everyone is scandulous so you don't trust anyone but keep an eye out for the special ones that truley care." (sic)
The alleged victim said she has no doubt that there are many other victims. She said Smith told her there were 3,000 victims and that they included men and women.
"He hits drifters," said the alleged victim. "He hits people who are young. He hits young women, and from what I understand, he hits men too. Those are his targets."
The alleged victim said she met Smith online through the Yahoo! Personals website.
Police said Smith may have made contact with people outside of Kent County over the Internet. Kent County Health Department officials said they have sent out a statewide alert to get the word out to victims outside of Kent County.
The alleged victim told us she hopes what happened to her encourages others to be cautious when meeting people online, especially if the relationship becomes sexual.
"I thought he was everything in the world I ever wanted or thought I couldn't have," she said. "Put on a condom and it can save the rest of your life. It's one of those things that's worth waiting for."
Kent County Health Department Communications and Marketing Manager Lisa LaPlante said this is the first time the Health Department has seen someone deliberately trying to spread the virus to so many people and that officials are concerned.
"We want to make sure that anyone who may have injected drugs with [Smith], who may have had sex with him, does come forward and get tested," said LaPlante. "We want to make sure that they're not spreading the virus to anyone else."
LaPlante said they don't know how many potential victims are out there, but they want to spread the word and cover all the bases.
"The rate of transmission is relatively low for a single incident, however, that said, it's still there," said LaPlante. "We just want to make sure that if anyone is engaging in any risky behaviors that they're able to find out what their status is."
LaPlante pointed out new HIV diagnoses in Kent County have been down over the past five years. According to information from the Michigan Department of Community Health, the last time yearly HIV diagnoses topped 60 cases in a year was 1991.
24 people were diagnosed with HIV and 18 were diagnosed with AIDS in Kent County through October 2011. 37 were diagnosed with HIV and 25 were diagnosed with AIDS in 2010.
The Kent County Health Department offers free, anonymous and confidential testing. LaPlante said it's important to get tested if there's a chance you could have been exposed, even if you don't have symptoms.
"In some cases it can take 8 to 10 years before people realize that they have the virus. But it can start showing up in the system within a matter of six months and that's why people should get tested more than once in the time period after which they've been exposed to it," said LaPlante.
Counselors are on hand at the Kent County Health Department as HIV tests are administered to offer advice on safe sex practices and talk with patients in the event the test is positive.
said that the Health Department offers two tests. One is a rapid, pin prick type test, the other is a more traditional test. LaPlante said the rapid test provides results in less than an hour.
LaPlante said the Health Department recommends that people get tested one month, three months and six months after exposure, just to be completely sure of their HIV status.
Authorities reminded that any more victims who believe they may have been infected by Smith must come forward directly to police, even if they were tested at the Kent County Health Department. Federal confidentiality laws prohibit the Health Department from sharing a person's HIV information.
The alleged victim who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 said she didn't go to police after she found out she was infected because she didn't think she could prove that Smith knew he had the virus and that he was the one who gave it to her.
Shortly before he turned himself into authorities, Smith sent the alleged victim a text message, she said, and encouraged her to support the charges against him.
"Turning myself into the law, my life is over," the message said. "Take care. Always love you."
The victim said she's glad the suspect is in jail where he won't be able to harm other innocent and unsuspecting victims.
"It's about time," she said.
Smith is behind bars Tuesday night. He is charged with a felony -- failure to disclose HIV status to a sexual partner. The maximum penalty for the crime is four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If you believe you are a victim, you can contact the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3600.
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