Officials respond after man charged with sexual assault of a child, transmitting HIV

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- Rockford man Stephen G. Grimes was charged​ Thursday for sexually assaulting a child and giving the child HIV.

"Despicable" and "disgusting" are the words Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea used to describe the charges.

"It's a tragedy that a child fell victim to a predator," he says.

Grimes became the suspect of the assaults when the Rockford Police Department responded to a call at a medical office. Detectives conducted a follow up investigation, which led them to Grimes.

The charges allege the assaults began in 2005 when the victim was under 13 years old. Police say Grimes was at one point in a relationship with the victim's mother.

The child victim tested positive for HIV.

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated for too long, it can turn into AIDS, a deadly disease. However, HIV is manageable through medication.

"The reality is there is going to be a lot of trauma," says Vice President of community relations at Crusader Community Health Shelton Kay. "This is something we would want someone to live a normal, healthy life, but it's getting to that point."

Getting to that point may involve therapy, something Kay says health officials urge. There is a lot of medication that comes with an HIV diagnosis, which is difficult for someone to start at a young age.

"It is just the overwhelming commitment that someone that young has to make to the fact that you're going to be taking medication for the rest of your life," explains Kay. "It's difficult for an adult to accept that, but to tell someone who's young that you have something that's going to impact you forever, that can be overwhelming"

The costs of HIV medications can be overwhelming, too. Kay says out of pocket it could cost $2,000 a month. However, he says that is rare.

There are programs available to help the monetary aspect of HIV, and Kay says insurance often covers some costs.

Kay explains they don't see pediatric cases of HIV often, but similar to adults he says it is important to get into treatment quickly.

"Get on medication, you can live a long, healthy life."