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Public health alert issued after HIV-positive sex worker had over 200 clients

Although the woman lived in Ohio, authorities say she may have interacted with individuals spanning multiple states, including Florida, and extending up the East Coast.
Linda Inez Leccese
Posted at 12:24 PM, May 20, 2024

Authorities in Ohio have released a public health warning after learning that an HIV-positive sex worker had interactions with over 200 clients.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office charged Linda Inez Leccese with soliciting after she tested positive for HIV, which is a third-degree felony. Now both the sheriff’s office and the Marietta Police Department are working to contact at least 211 people who may have been in contact with her, to make sure these individuals get screened and, if needed, treated for HIV.

“We want the citizens out there to understand that there will be a deputy sheriff reaching out to these individuals that we have numbers for,” said Washington County Sheriff’ Office Chief Deputy Mark Warden in a press conference attended by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “They’re not in trouble, this is public health awareness. This is not a scam.”

According to the sheriff's office, during their investigation into the matter they found that Leccesse had allegedly been soliciting paid sexual work, knowing she tested positive for HIV since 2022, and that she may have had contact with people across several states.

“‘This case could stem anywhere from Florida up the East Coast, but there are local individuals that we will be reaching out to,” Warden said, as reported by News and Sentinel. “This investigation will continue and interviews will be done, again, to protect the public’s health to try to glean those other individuals who have been in contact with this individual."

Officials say that people who have been contacted will be referred to their local health department and advise anyone who may have had sexual contact with Leccese to undergo testing.