Updated 3 months ago by Josh Kegley
A Lexington man is suing the University of Kentucky Medical Center, the Bluegrass Care Clinic, the Fayette County Health Department and a long list of doctors who allegedly misdiagnosed him and treated him for a sexually transmitted disease he didn't appear to have.
Bobby Russell, 43, told LEX 18 he has lived the last nine years believing he was HIV positive. During that time, he has taken powerful medications and only had intimate relationships with HIV-positive people, to avoid spreading the disease, he said.
"It's just the most difficult thing I've had to deal with my entire life," he said.
According to a lawsuit filed in Fayette County Circuit Court Friday, the appropriate confirmatory tests were never done by UK hospital or its clinics, and the routine tests performed since Russell's initial diagnosis in 2004 have showed either negative or indeterminable results.
"I feel like I was lied to," he said.
Russell is seeking an undetermined amount of money for what he describes as a life-altering misdiagnosis. He says the medication has taken a toll on his health, and, following his doctors' advice, he has avoided relationships with people who do not have the disease.
He said he has had relationships with "two or three" HIV-positive partners since he was diagnosed, and he has been in a committed relationship with an HIV-positive partner for the last two years.
"It may be too late for me," he said.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton declined to comment on the case Monday, saying it was the university's policy not to comment on pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Russell was diagnosed with HIV in September 2004 after a test came back positive for the sexually transmitted disease.
Russell questioned the result, telling his doctor an earlier test at the Fayette County Health Department showed negative results. The doctor then ordered a "confirmatory test," called a western blot test, the lawsuit said.
That test did not detect the presence of HIV 1 and tested negative for HIV 2, a less common form of the disease. However, none of Russell's doctors ever viewed the results of the western blot and apparently relied only on the previous test to diagnose him, the lawsuit said.
His UK doctors ordered him to begin treatment for HIV immediately, the document said. He began taking medication in December 2004 and, at one time, took up to 12 different pills, he said.
Russell "never gave any thought to the diagnosis but rather focused with treatment as he was afraid he was going to die," the lawsuit said.
The diagnosis was called into question after Russell said he was denied disability benefits by a provider that found he had no disability, based on a test that showed negative results, he said.
Russell then requested all of his medical records from UK hospital.
"Upon this review, plaintiff concluded that not one medical provider ever actually ordered an appropriate full spectrum test for HIV - thus resulting in him being misdiagnosed for the condition of HIV," the lawsuit said.
Russell's attorney, Jonathan C. Dailey of Washington, D.C., said he doesn't think Russell's diagnosis is an isolated case.
"I believe the testing protocol they use at UK is probably used for most patients," he said.
Russell said his next step is to find a "reputable" doctor and get a full-spectrum analysis to find out for sure whether he has HIV. He said he will probably go to an out-of-state clinic.
"I just want to get to the bottom of all this, and it appears now that I should have never began the medication because the tests were always ... negative, non-detectable or undetected," he said.
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