Brandi Yakeima Lasiter wanted to punish the men of Americus, Ga., who had allegedly wronged her. She set her plan into motion last week on a Facebook Live feed, claiming to be HIV positive and broadcasting that she had intentionally infected her past sexual partners.
The video spread quickly and, although there may be truth to the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” when faced with criminal consequences, the 36-year-old woman retreated.
Americus Police Maj. Herman Lamar told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Lasiter said that the video was a lie and that she was not HIV positive. Lasiter shared results of a 2018 blood test with the police department to corroborate the most recent version of her alleged bill of health. She also agreed to take a second blood test. It came back negative for the virus on Friday.
“She stated she was angry at the people named in the video when she posted it,” Lamar said.
Local law enforcement officials first received reports of the video on Aug. 2. The links led them to Lasiter’s minute-long Facebook rant. In the original post, which has since been removed, Lasiter began by saying, “I am HIV positive.”
Clad in a white T-shirt and pink-streaked cap, she listed her alleged “victims” — her past partners and their wives or girlfriends — and described the sexual encounters in detail.
“I always get the last laugh,” Lasiter said on the self-filmed video, highlighting her vengeance. “I get real nasty and evil.”
More than two-thirds of states and territories nationwide have enacted HIV criminal laws — some, like Georgia, do not require transmission of HIV. In several states, failure to disclose HIV-positive status is a crime, even if the person used a condom or was taking virus-suppression medication. Other jurisdictions criminalize conduct that poses no risk of transmission, such as spitting and biting, according to a report published by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams Institute.
In recent months, several cases have divided advocates and led to debate about whether HIV criminal laws are preventing transmission or merely stigmatizing those already infected.
Sanjay Johnson, 26, exposed another man to HIV during a one-night stand. Johnson had been on virus-suppression medication at the time and had been told by doctors that he could not transmit HIV. Still, prosecutors in Little Rock filed criminal charges against him. He narrowly avoided prison and was sentenced to probation.
A man in Pensacola, Fla., charged with knowingly spreading the virus, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week after having sex with two women and lying about his HIV diagnosis. Unlike Johnson, the 27-year-old had previously been convicted of having sex without mentioning he was HIV positive.
Under Georgia law, HIV-positive individuals are required to reveal their diagnosis to intimate partners; exposing another to the virus during a sexual encounter without disclosure is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Americus police waited for Lasiter’s new blood-test results before deciding on charges. On Friday, they said she is being charged with a misdemeanor for harassing communications.
The UCLA study noted that between 1988 and September 2017, 571 HIV-related arrests were made in Georgia. Before 1997, HIV-related arrests in the state were rare — with 27 annually. The number doubled around 2000, with 63 HIV-related arrests that year.
According to 2016 data from Georgia’s Department of Public Heath, more than 58,000 people with HIV live in the state, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as a high prevalence of the virus. In 2017, the Public Health Department reported that HIV had been diagnosed in 2,500 Georgians.