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HIV-positive athlete freed on bail

HURON, S.D., May 3 (UPI) -- An 18-year-old college basketball player charged with intentionally exposing a woman to HIV was released on bail after pleading not guilty to three counts of recklessly spreading the virus linked to AIDS.

Nikko Briteramos was released from the Beadle County Jail Thursday afternoon after posting $10,000 bail. Circuit Court Judge Jon Erickson had refused to free him on a personal recognizance bond. His next court appearance was scheduled in June, with trial set for July 24.

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Briteramos was charged last week with five felony counts of having unprotected sex with a woman without disclosing he had HIV. He faces 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine on each count under a South Dakota law enacted two years ago that makes it a felony for HIV-infected people to expose others without their consent.

Two Aberdeen, S.D., men became the second and third people charged under the state's HIV law this week. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader said J.L. Woods, 41, was accused of concealing his infection in four incidents involving three men. His roommate, William Jenigen, 35, was charged with six counts involving three victims.

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Health officials tested 13 people for HIV in Aberdeen.

Briteramos, a 6-foot-7 Chicago native and freshman basketball player at Si Tanka Huron University, learned he was HIV positive on March 27 after donating blood in February. He played forward on the Screaming Eagles basketball team at the small school with an enrollment of only 400 students.

Gov. Bill Jankilow said the teen may have given a young woman a death sentence.

"This is no different than pointing a gun at somebody and pulling the trigger,"Janklow said.

As conditions for his bond, the court ordered Briteramos to remain inside the state, avoid any contact with the woman and to abstain from sex or intimate physical contact with any person.

County health authorities confirmed four cases of HIV infection after testing 186 people in the Huron Area. Anyone who had sexual contact with Briteramos was interviewed and asked to take an HIV test.

Disraeli Briteramos, 47, the youth's father, said his son is not a "monster," but agreed the teenager should have told his partners about his HIV infection.

"He's not a serial viral killer," the elder Briteramos told the Argus Leader.

There were 22 confirmed cases of HIV infection in South Dakota in 2001 and the state has one of the lowest rates of AIDS in the United States, health officials said.

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