HIV-Positive Prostitute Sentenced to Jail

HIV-Positive Prostitute Sentenced to Jail

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A prostitute who continued soliciting despite knowing she was HIV-positive has been sentenced to one year in jail.

Teresa Marie Romo, 40, had pleaded guilty to third-degree felony prostitution with prior knowledge of being HIV positive.

Prosecutor Simarjit Gill said Romo has had 24 sex-related offenses, including six since April 1995, when she was officially notified she was HIV-positive.

Gill claimed "the kindest thing we can do (for Romo)" would be to send her to prison, where she can receive adequate treatment for her HIV-positive condition. Gill said Romo also has hepatitis B, cervical cancer and an addiction to crack cocaine.

But 3rd District Judge Robin Reese on Monday ordered the case closed after Romo serves 365 days in jail, with credit for the three months she has served since her arrest.

Gill expressed surprise that the judge did not impose probation, which would hold the threat of prison over Romo's head to discourage her from re-offending. The judge told Gill he could file new charges, if that occurs.

Defense attorney Brennon Fuelling had requested Romo be given the opportunity to get out of jail and pursue treatment for her health problems.

Romo said, "I am asking you to have mercy on me ... my days are numbered. Prostitution and drugs are the last thing on my mind."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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