Transsexual prostitute may have put clients at risk of HIV

Metro police have arrested a transsexual prostitute who may have put clients at risk of contracting HIV.

Investigators found Frank Ward on the Internet.

Watch the NewsChannel 5 video story on this here.

Each week, Metro detectives look through Web sites such as Craigslist and conduct prostitution stings. Craigslist is a popular Web site where people post ads for roommates, employment, furniture sales, etc.

Investigators said Ward, also known as Cotton Candy, placed an online ad offering sex acts. Ward traveled to Nashville from St. Louis to meet clients.

An undercover police informant met with Cotton Candy at a hotel in Donelson. Police said Ward offered to perform sex acts in return for money.  Officers then arrested Ward for prostitution. 

During an interview with detectives, Ward dropped a bombshell.

"The transsexual told us that she had HIV," said Metro Police Capt. Todd Henry.

Investigators have no idea how many people Ward put at risk.

"Obviously every customer that this person had from Davidson County was susceptible of catching HIV from this person," Henry said. "They were put in danger.

"You're the only person who can protect you," said Kevin Lawson, counseling and testing services coordinator for Nashville Cares, an HIV/AIDS education and support agency.

Lawson said cases such as this show the importance of AIDS testing especially among people who put themselves at risk.

"What they can do in the future to protect themselves is learn from this experience, and move on and not beat themselves up for this," Lawson said.

Lawson said staff also review Craigslist ads to find information.

While just about anything is available on the Internet these days, Lawson believes nothing is more powerful than information.

"It's as effective as the people who receive the message. If they get the message the right way and incorporate it into their lives," Lawson said.

Someone who knows they have AIDS and prostitutes is committing a felony. To police, Ward later denied having AIDS.

Authorities have not yet tested Ward for AIDS. A decision on testing could be made during a court appearance later this month. 

Police said say they made more than 100 arrests last year from their Craigslist prostitution stings. It is part of the department's ongoing effort to crack down on prostitution in the city.

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