US: Colorado man accused of criminal father-to-child HIV transmission

January 9, 2009

In what appears to be the first case of criminal father-to-child transmission to be prosecuted (that I am aware of), a Colorado man has been charged with child abuse resulting in serious injury.

It is alleged that, knowing he was HIV-positive, he had unprotected sex without disclosure, infecting his fiancée with HIV after she had tested HIV-negative in her first trimester and who then unknowingly passed the virus on to her newborn.

During the pregnancy the couple continued to have unprotected sex, and according to [the accused], he knew the whole time he was HIV positive. According to statements, she contracted the disease between conception and the birth. According to court documents, when the baby was four months he became so sick he was transported to Denver’s Children’s Hospital where he almost died. That’s where they found out the baby and the mother was infected with HIV.

Colorado has no HIV disclosure laws, which partially explains why the charges only relate to the infected child. In addition, the man’s fiancée appears to be standing by her man.

The DA’s Office considered [the accused’s] fiancee a victim, but she says she’s not. She made an emotional plea in court to lift a restraining order against [the accused].
“I don’t feel like I’m in harms way, I have his child at home,” she told the judge. “I would like to continue to tell him what’s going on.”

I have to ask why the woman was not tested again in the third trimester. Was the child’s infection purely the accused’s responsibility? The latest guidelines for HIV testing and prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV in the United States include the following recommendations:

  • In the third trimester, preferably before 36 weeks of gestation, repeated HIV antibody testing is recommended for the following groups:
    • Women aged 15 to 45 years in states with high HIV prevalence.
    • Women delivering in hospitals in which HIV prevalence is 1 or more in 1000 pregnant women screened.
    • Women with risk factors for HIV infection, such as diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection during pregnancy, use of injection drugs or being a partner of an injection drug user, exchanging sex or money for drugs, being a sex partner of someone who is HIV-infected, having a new or multiple sex partners during pregnancy, or signs or symptoms of acute HIV infection.
  • Some experts recommend repeated HIV screening for all pregnant women in the third trimester. The rationale is that prevalence-based testing may be difficult to implement, evaluation of individual risk is unreliable, and the risk for MTCT of HIV is increased in women who first acquire HIV infection during pregnancy.
  • I include two reports below – one from The Daily Sentinel following his arrest in December 2008, and one from KJCT.com reporting the charges.


    GJ man accused of passing HIV to son appears in court
    Jan 6, 2009

    GRAND JUNCTION (KJCT.com) — The Grand Junction man accused of knowingly infecting his fiancee with HIV and then passing the virus onto their newborn son appeared in court this morning to be formally charged.

    33-year-old Shad Skov is being charged with child abuse resulting in serious injury, a class three felony. No charges have been filed in regards to the mother of the newborn.

    “We had to prove he knew he had it… withheld it and caused the child in this case to suffer consequences because of it,” Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret said.

    During the pregnancy the couple continued to have unprotected sex, and according to Skov, he knew the whole time he was HIV positive. According to statements, she contracted the disease between conception and the birth. According to court documents, when the baby was four months he became so sick he was transported to Denver’s Children’s Hospital where he almost died. That’s where they found out the baby and the mother was infected with HIV.

    “He was crashing pretty hard… that’s why they had to life flight him out,” Eret said.

    The DA’s Office considered Skov’s fiancee a victim, but she says she’s not. She made an emotional plea in court to lift a restraining order against Skov.

    “I don’t feel like I’m in harms way, I have his child at home,” she told the judge. “I would like to continue to tell him what’s going on.”

    In Colorado there are no HIV notification laws. They are considering this a landmark case in Mesa County. He’s only being charged with child abuse because, if doctors would have known, treatment for the baby would have been different.

    Skov is currently being held at the Mesa County Jail on a 100-thousand dollar bond. His next court date is on January 29th where he’s expected to ask for a bond reduction.


    HIV-positive man accused of infecting fiancee, newborn
    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    A Grand Junction man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of felony child abuse for infecting his fiancee and their newborn child with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, without ever disclosing that he was infected.

    Shad Skov, 33, who has a lengthy rap sheet in Colorado that includes an 11-year stint in prison, never told anyone he was HIV-positive, said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger.

    “There’s definitely no question the baby suffered serious bodily injury,” Hautzinger said. “I have never seen anything like it before.”

    Hautzinger said the baby’s mother revealed in open court Monday during Skov’s advisement of charges that Skov never told her that he was a carrier of the virus. Skov is in custody at Mesa County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. He also faces a felony charge of violating conditions of his parole.

    According to an arrest affidavit, Skov’s fiancee became pregnant in January 2007. The allegations came to light after the baby was 4 months old and became so ill he was taken by helicopter to a Denver hospital. While in her first trimester of pregnancy, the baby’s mother tested negative for HIV, but the mother likely contracted the virus sometime between conception and the baby’s birth, the affidavit said.

    Had Skov disclosed his condition to medical personnel, the baby could have been born by Cesarean section, decreasing the likelihood the child would become HIV-positive, doctors have said, according to Hautzinger.

    Hautzinger also said charges were still possible against the baby’s mother, who has voiced opposition to the district attorney’s office filing charges against Skov.

    Skov was sentenced to prison in 1995 on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree assault and aggravated robbery, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

    Also included on Shov’s long list of arrests around the state are charges including second-degree homicide, larceny, first-degree burglary and driving under the influence of alcohol, which date back to 1993, according to CBI records.