A Catholic priest’s claim from the pulpit that a revenge-seeking woman had spread AIDS to as many as 80 men in this rural coastal district has created a furor and prompted a media blitz.
But no victims have turned up in Dungarvan, a district with a population of 5,674 in County Waterford.
The controversy began Sunday when the Rev. Michael Kennedy told his congregation that five young men from Dungarvan had confided they have tested positive for the AIDS virus at clinics in England.
Another 80 men were at risk because of contact with a 25-year-old woman with AIDS who Kennedy said had been “sleeping around” in the district since November, venting her rage over a boyfriend who had infected her.
“Out of her anger and desperation, she wanted to get her own back on as many as she could,” said Kennedy, who is a distant cousin of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
He said the woman now is in a London AIDS clinic and has only weeks to live.
A reporter from an Irish newspaper, the Cork Examiner, was in the congregation and reported the claim. On Monday, media from all over Britain and Ireland descended on Dungarvan, searching for victims under the banner headline, “Angel of Death.”
Health Minister Michael Noonan said Thursday that health workers have uncovered no proof of Michael Kennedy’s claim. The area bishop and parish priest issued chilly statements saying Kennedy’s sermon was the first they’d heard of the issue.
Kennedy refused further comment Thursday.