During a court sentencing, a Northwest Arkansas man has admitted to purposely contracting HIV so he could infect others with the virus.
Stephen Koch pleaded guilty Monday to Attempting to Expose Another Person to HIV, Possession of Meth with Purpose to Deliver and eight counts of Distributing or Viewing Child Pornography.
Koch was sentenced to 50 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
He is also required to register as a sex offender.
For a man to say he intentionally contracted HIV to infect others is something Mark Williams, an HIV survivor, thought he’d never hear about.
But this only fuels Williams to keep his education efforts up in Northwest Arkansas.
“It’s very irritating that people do not take the disease serious enough,” he says.
According to court documents, while Benton County prosecutors were searching through Koch’s computer for child pornography, they discovered that he knowingly infected himself with HIV.
“For somebody to have such low self esteem, and lack of worth that they would try to go out and do something that stupid is the only word I can think to use,” adds Williams.
Williams says it’s offensive that someone would do something so evil.
“To want to take himself down this road, and infect other people, I just can’t comprehend it,” Williams continues.
HIV educator Ruth Coker Burks says Koch’s actions disrespect those who’ve lost their lives to the virus.
“He was set out to destroy any and everything. It’s so unfortunate and awful when people have died…just tried to live with this virus,” she says.
Williams adds Koch’s actions only prove that there needs to be more education in Northwest Arkansas.
“It empowers us and emboldens us to go forward because we know that our work’s not yet done,” he says.
Williams is also the pastor at the Spirit of Peace NWA.
The church also doubles as an HIV/AIDS testing, and information site.