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Army: No link found between HIV-positive soldier and unit deployed to Afghanistan

By MARK ST.CLAIR | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2007

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — No link has been found between an HIV-positive paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and members of the unit deployed to Afghanistan, military officials said this week.

An investigation conducted by preventive medicine personnel within the 82nd and Combined Joint Task Force-82, which the division currently commands, focused on a company-size element of soldiers thought to be at risk.

“In an effort to protect deployed servicemembers, preventive medicine specialists conducted a thorough public health investigation in Afghanistan. The public health officer determined that there was no plausible link between an HIV-infected soldier at Fort Bragg and deployed servicemembers,” said CJTF-82’s public affairs director, Lt. Col. David Accetta.

The HIV-positive soldier, Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, 25, was arrested in mid-June after a five-month investigation by Fort Bragg, N.C., military police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, local CBS affiliate WRAL reported July 16.

Because of his medical status, Dalton, who is married with children, is non-deployable and did not accompany his unit, the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, downrange. In November, Dalton was ordered, both orally and in writing, by his commander to abstain from sexual activity without first telling his partners of his HIV status, WRAL reported.

Unfortunately for an unidentified 18-year-old male in the Fayetteville area, Dalton did not follow orders. Dalton passed on the virus to the teen, who was diagnosed in February through a routine blood test.

“The 82nd Airborne Division intends to charge one of its paratroopers at Fort Bragg for knowingly engaging in reckless sexual behavior which resulted in him infecting a partner with the virus that causes AIDS. We regret that controls emplaced by the command failed to prevent the tragic spread of HIV to others,” Accetta said. “Our concern here is focused on the families affected by this matter and on ensuring justice is served in this case. We condemn the alleged behavior in this case in the strongest possible terms.”

According to WRAL, Dalton has been charged with crimes against nature, assault and assault with a deadly weapon, and is being held on $50,000 bond with a preliminary court hearing set for Aug. 2.

The investigation conducted in Afghanistan was not gender-specific and included interviews and blood testing, said Maj. Jennifer Caci, CJTF-82 environmental science officer. Caci also said that the investigation was purely speculative from the start.

Even though a link was not established, “Servicemembers who have engaged in sexual conduct that places them at risk for sexually transmitted diseases or HIV are encouraged to report to local medical authorities for confidential testing,” CJTF-82 authorities said, adding that information shared is confidential and would not result in punitive action against any U.S. servicemember.


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