Dozens of people face an agonizing six-month wait to find out whether they have contracted the AIDS virus after they were stabbed by a drunken 16-year-old youth who rampaged through Berlin last Friday, because it has emerged that one of his first victims was HIV positive.
The teenager, named only as Mike P., was among hundreds of thousands who attended an open-air festival to mark the opening of Berlin's new train station on Friday night. As the crowd broke up afterwards, he started kicking and stabbing people as he walked along. He stabbed several in the back and behind, others in the front.
Within 15 minutes he had injured at least 28 people, six of them seriously, until he was overpowered by private security guards and handed to the police. Over the weekend, after police announced that one of the victims had been HIV positive, more people who had been only slightly injured came forward, raising the total to 35.
In addition, dozens of police and medical staff who came into contact with the victims have to undergo AIDS tests. Initial tests have been negative but they won't get the final all-clear until they have been tested again in six months.
The attack has sparked fears for public safety during the month-long World Cup which starts on June 9, when massive crowds will gather at soccer stadiums and in public match viewing areas. But officials said it was an isolated case and that police were already doing all they could to protect people during the tournament.
Waiting for HIV results
One of the victims of Friday's attack, named as the 24-year-old Ulf K., who was stabbed in the shoulder, told Bild newspaper: "I first heard about the HIV from reporters. Ten minutes later the doctor came in and told me they'd already done two blood tests and that they were negative. But that hasn't given me peace of mind. The fear remains."
The patients are being given drugs which can reduce the chance of contracting HIV. "I now have to take eight tablets a day for the next four weeks," said Ulf.
Experts say the chance of contracting HIV from a stab wound is approximately the same as getting it from an infected syringe -- about one in 300. There are other factors that affect the likelihood of the infection. For example, the person stabbed immediately after the HIV positive victim is more likely to have contracted HIV than the subsequent victims.
The attacker, Mike P., comes from the run-down Neukölln district of Berlin. He denies being the attacker. He faces charges of attempted murder.