Random man pricked with syringe, told 'Welcome to the HIV club'

A man told police he was randomly pricked with a syringe and told, “Welcome to the HIV club,” on a sidewalk in Seattle. He was treated at a hospital – but police still don’t know if he was infected or who the attacker was.

SEATTLE — A man outside a Seattle bar was pricked by a syringe and told, "Welcome to the HIV club," by the woman who stabbed him, police were told.

The incident happened about 12:15 a.m. Sept. 17 in the 500 block of North 36th Street, part of Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

The woman with a syringe, described as a white woman in her late 20s with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, was walking with a man about the same age who was wearing a baseball hat.

As they walked by the victim and his girlfriend on the sidewalk, the victim "felt a sharp prick and stabbing puncture to his left tricep," according to a police report. The woman made the HIV comment while looking directly at him, the victim told police.

The man saw blood from where the syringe needle had penetrated his arm, police said, and "he then became traumatized by what had just happened," an office wrote in the incident report.

The victim works as a crew member on a yacht moored in Lake Union.

He didn't want to talk about the incident. Through his captain he said that he is very shaken up and concerned for his health.

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Neither the victim nor his girlfriend could find the suspect or the man she was walking with. The victim’s girlfriend also heard the comment about HIV. Police believe the incident was unprovoked.

"We've never heard of anything like this in Seattle before," Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud told KIRO 7. "There have been reports of something similar in other cities but nothing like this here.

"And hopefully this is a very isolated incident." 

The victim was treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Police said Tuesday afternoon they did not know if the man had been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, assistant director, Madison Clinic and Infection Disease Clinic Director at Harborview Medical center told us there is a low risk of the victim being infected with HIV.

"If the needle was visibly bloody and it had recently been drawn from an HIV infected person the risk is .3%," said Dr. Dhanireddy.

She added the risk is even lower if the victim was treated with post exposure prophylaxis treatment or "PEP" within hours of getting pricked by the needle.

Dr. Dhanireddy said the chances of infection would be decreased by up to 80%.

"It's a very low chance we never say zero but it's very low chance. particularly because we don’t know the source status," said Dr. Dhanireddy.

Police checked the area for surveillance cameras and found some, "but the owners all stated they did not work," according to the report.

"We still have no idea who this person may have been," Michaud said.

While the victim went to Harborview Medical Center, the incident was not reported to police until Sept. 19 – two days after the incident. Police said they encourage people to report crimes as soon as possible after being treated.

"Hopefully," Michaud said, "this was just somebody with a very poor sense of humor trying to scare someone in a way that is totally inappropriate."

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