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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

April 20, 1993
Associated Press (04/16/93)

London--Boxer Ruben Palacio took 12 years to win a world title, but on the eve of his first fight since the title, he became the first champion to become infected with HIV. On Friday, Palacio flew home to Columbia, after testing positive for HIV during a routine pre-fight medical examination. He was subsequently stripped of his WBO featherweight title. WBO championship committee president Ed Levine said, "It took, him a long time to get to this stage. He reaches the pinnacle of his sport, he's defending his championship for the first time, and he's stricken." Levine said the only thing to do was to bar Palacio from the ring. "We can't risk the life of another boxer by letting him fight. It's a kind of disease that can be spread via blood contact, and boxing is a sport where that is likely to happen," said Levine. Palacio was expected to defend his title against Briton John Davidson on Saturday in Washington, England. Levine said, "Instead of going home with the biggest payday of his career, he's going home with a test result that indicates his life is substantially shortened."