Police: Woman lied about infecting others with HIV

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DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit woman who claimed in a video posted online that she infected more than 500 people with HIV has admitted it was a hoax, police said Friday.

On the video, the woman said she contracted HIV in 1998 and has been “pretty upset” about having to “suffer.” She also said she has set out to “destroy the world” because a cure for the virus that causes AIDS has not been found.

Although she wore a bandanna over her face to hide her identity, police said they were still able to track her down. Police said the woman voluntarily submitted to an HIV test, which came back negative.

No charges have been filed against the woman, police spokesman John Roach said Friday.

“We don’t see anything at this point under state law that would allow us to press charges, but we are researching,” he said.

The woman identified herself to The Detroit News as 23-year-old Jackie Braxton and told the newspaper that she doesn’t have AIDS. “I made the tape because I wanted to raise awareness about AIDS,” she said.

The Associated Press tried several times to reach Braxton by phone Friday, but she did not answer and her voicemail box was full.

In 2008, a New York man was charged with sending threats in interstate commerce and falsely claiming to have tampered with a consumer product. He allegedly claimed in hoax Internet videos that he had poisoned millions of bottles of baby food, some with cyanide or rat poison, because he wanted to kill black and Hispanic children.

The gossip Web site mediatakeout.com was the first to report on the HIV hoax earlier and posted the 11-minute video of the woman on its site and on YouTube. The Detroit News and other local media outlets then picked up on the story.

Mediatakeout.com received the video via e-mail earlier this week, editor Fred Mwangaguhunga told the AP Friday.

“We looked at it, talked about it, and whether or not we thought it was a hoax and whether we should put it out,” he said. “She was alleging a possible public health crisis. The hope was we would be able to find out more information on the woman. We uploaded it onto YouTube, and that’s when we ran the story.”

Mediatakeout.com also contacted Detroit police about the video.

Michael McElrath, a spokesman for the city’s health department, said it appeared one positive did come from the hoax: The number of walk-ins for HIV testing more than doubled in Detroit on Friday. Because all information is confidential, people seeking testing were not required to say why.