Car Thieves Drink HIV-Infected Blood

R I O  D E   J A N E I R O, Jan. 3, 2001 -- Two members of a gang of Brazilian car thieves may have drank vials of HIV-infected blood — thinking it was a yogurt drink—found in a stolen car, officials said today.

Over the New Year’s weekend, six armed bandits overpowered a worker at a medical laboratory in the remote western state of Rondonia, and stole his car while he was on the way to the airport to ship blood samples to a distant laboratory, a spokesman for Rondonia’s security secretariat told Reuters.

“The blood samples came from AIDS patients and were being shipped for further tests,” the spokesman said.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Drunk and Confused

The thieves sped out of town, but made a brief stop at a bar on their way. After a few stiff drinks, two members of the gang uncovered the vials and gulped them down, mistaking them for drinkable yogurt, the spokesman added.

The two suspects apparently exposed themselves to the deadly, incurable disease.

“I don’t know how it happened, but the culprits told reporters here that they were drunk and confused and didn’t know what they were doing,” the spokesman said. The spokesman noted that the suspects had not told police about drinking the blood.

Police caught four of the alleged robbers some 50 miles down the road after the car broke down.