David Dean Smith, 51, from Comstock Park, accused of intentionally trying to spread HIV, appeared in court briefly, on Wednesday.  

Smith’s attorney waved the preliminary hearing, and requested a mental evaluation for his client before moving forward in the case.  Judge Passenger granted the order. 

Back in December, Smith told Grand Rapids police that he has been sexually active and injected drugs with people over the last three years.  He turned himself in and was booked in the Kent County Jail on the 23rd.  He is charged with two counts of AIDS-sexual penetration with uninformed partner (failing to disclose HIV status).  Both are four-year felonies.

According to court documents, both alleged incidents happened at a home on Prospect NE in Grand Rapids; the first on June 8, 2008, and the second on January 1, 2009.  Neighbors say Smith used to live there, but the home has been empty for nearly a year and is for sale.

At a hearing on December 27, Smith pleaded with Judge Jenine LaVille for a lower bond saying, "I would also like to say that I turned myself in for all of this."

LaVille raised his bond to $100,000, saying he was "a danger to society."

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is working with Grand Rapids Police and the Kent County Prosecutors Office to look into more potential claims from victims.  Jeff Hertel from the GRPD Major Case Team thinks more victims will come forward in the coming days.

Police say the man suggested that he was intentionally trying to spread the virus to as many people as possible, and that hundreds of people may have been exposed to HIV. 

KCHD Personal Health Services counselors are taking this health threat seriously.  They are aggressively investigating the allegations, tracking down potential victims and encouraging HIV testing for any individuals who believe they may have been exposed through sexual contact with Smith, or through a shared needle.

Health officials say they have never heard of anyone coming forward to police claiming to have exposed potentially hundreds by intentionally spreading the HIV virus.

Steve Alsum runs The Grand Rapids Red Project, which has programs to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.

“One of my first reactions was of fear," said Alsum. "That people would get the wrong idea out of this, that there are a lot of people who are HIV positive that are trying to infect other people with HIV.”

While the threat of transmission varies based on the activity, this is still an extremely serious public health concern. Anyone who is concerned should immediately have his or her HIV status tested. KCHD provides quick, safe, anonymous and confidential testing.  Please call the Personal Health Services Clinic at 616.632.7171 for more information.