Bergalis/Dr. Acer/AIDS--ever resolved???

The very publicized case of Kimberly Bergalis, who might have contracted AIDS as a result of her dentist (Florida?).

I seem to recall there was some discussion that maybe it was not carelessness on her dentist’s part, but he might have been deliberately infecting people.

It’s been a while, and I don’t know whether anyone ever came up with “the most plausible” explanation–that is, accidental or deliberate.

I think all the parties involved are dead, now, anyway.

ok,my sister told me this a few days ago. I forgot how she found out, but this is what she told me. She said that Kimberly lied, that she got AIDS from someone she was having an affair with, and lied so she wouldn’t get caught having an affair.

Sometimes life is so great you just gotta muss up your hair and quack like a duck!

I don’t know if such testing has been done, or if so, what results were obtained, but the HIV virus mutates very rapidly, so that within a few transmissions it is demonstrably different that virus isolated from the “original” host.

So, unless Kimberly Bergalis & the dentist shared the same sex partners, or maybe had sex partners who shared sex partners, if they had identical HIV strains, the suppostion for Dr. Acer infecting Ms. Bergalis would be quite strong.

One thing that gene sequencing can’t tell us, however, is who infected who, although in this case there seems little question that the dentist was infected long before the patient. It clearly can’t distinguish between inadvertent & deliberate infection, unless the infector gets HIV from some research lab instead of using his/her own secretions…

Sue from El Paso

I wrote a Straight Dope mailbag column about this
I don’t think any new information has come out since then.

OTOH, there was a single statement issued a couple of years after Acer’s death where the purported SO of the dentist admitted/claimed that the dentist had deliberately infected several patients because he was mad that the government and health organizations “weren’t doing enough” “because it was a gay disease.”

This statement was not widely publicized and dropped quickly from view. (I have not been able to find it on the web–which is overwhelmed by people arguing that Bergalis did or did not lie and that the CDC did or did not pursue a thorough examination of the facts–so I do not even know if the person making the claim was truly Acer’s SO or a shill for yet a different opinion.) I have no idea whether Bergalis lied. The evidence that she did is mostly circumstantial (though not without merit).

The evidence that the CDC used to identify Acer was the similarity of HIV DNA among the victims.

The evidence that Bergalis lied is that a secondary infection found on her is usually an STD.


The last I heard, the authorities were convinced that Dr. Acer deliberately infected several of his patients, for whatever reason. And that a handful had filed suits against him, but they didn’t expect to collect anything since his insurance policy had maxed out with the Bergalis case. There was no money left to collect.

One nit-pick…

HIV is a retrovirus. It’s genetic material is RNA, not DNA. Each virion contains the enzyme reverse transcriptase which allows the single-stranded RNA to act as template for the creation of double stranded DNA, a process which does not occur naturally in cells not infected with a retrovirus.

But, since ds DNA is orders of magnitude more stable than ss RNA, what can actually be detected in infected lymphocytes is the ds DNA “copies” of the virus’s RNA genes…

Sue from El Paso