HOUSTON, Texas (KPRC) – They were co-workers at a local hospital who became friends.
“He’s very friendly, charming, outgoing. He likes to talk. He can talk about anything” said Sarita Anderson of Karim “Tyson” Zakikhani.
And by summer 2013, Anderson said she and Zakikhani began dating and were inseparable.
“We went to concerts. We went to comedy shows. We went out to eat all the time,” Anderson said. “My son just soaked him up. They would play PlayStation together, so he really bonded with my son.”
They were intimate, so Anderson suggested both she and Zakikhani get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
“As a sign of good faith,” she said. “I knew I was clean because I had previously a month before had a well woman’s exam. Well, two months before, so I knew I was clean.
According to the medical records Anderson provided to Channel 2 Investigates, she had not been diagnosed with or treated for HIV prior to September 2013. And Anderson said Zakikhani told her he too had tested negative for the virus.
“No, I never asked for any paperwork,” she admitted. “I just took his word for it, as he took mine.”
In April 2014, Anderson got sick. She began to shed hair and nails and lose weight rapidly — 65 pounds in total. Then came the hospital stays.
“It just felt like a bad flu, and I went to the hospital,” Anderson said. “I thought that my weight loss was because I wasn’t eating like I should because it hurt to eat. It hurt to digest.”
She said Zakikhani was her caregiver, by her side every step of the way.
“He’s at the doctor’s visit with me and he says, ‘We’ll find out what’s wrong with you, babe. Everything is going to be OK,’” Anderson said.
Then in September came the doctor’s devastating diagnosis.
“He said, ‘Well, Ms. Anderson, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re HIV-positive.’ I said, ‘Really? How many tests did you run?’ He said, ‘We’ve ran a total of four.'”
Anderson said she was shocked, and then confronted Zakikhani about her diagnosis. She then reported him to police.
On Tuesday, Zakikhani was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and his bail was set at $30,000.
According to police, Zakikhani tested positive for HIV years before, and knowingly infected Anderson.
Officer Waldie, with Houston Police Department Family Crime Violence Office, said once Anderson reported Zakikhani to their office, they were able to corroborate her allegations.
“With the medical records, we were able to determine that the defendant was infected in March 2008,” Waldie said.
Channel 2 Investigates discovered another relationship Zakikhani had prior to his relationship with the complainant. That individual contracted HIV, too.
Investigators said there are other victims out there.
Anderson said several women have already reached out to her via social media.
“I believe, based on tips that we have, that there’s more victims,” Waldie said. “That he had other relationships during this time from 2008 until present. We just need y’all to come in, talk to me and we can speak about everything in detail and see if this is something that should require a charge against the defendant. The manner in which the defendant was acting was totally intentionally giving victims a virus that could be fatal. It’s very serious. It could lead to other infections. It could lead to deaths. That’s very important for us to stop that before it gets worse.”
Anderson said after her diagnosis she had contemplated ending it all, but she’s come a long way. The one bright spot is her 10-month-old son with Zakikhani.
“He’s a friendly baby,” Anderson said. “And by the grace, he was negative for everything. I think that he was my saving grace, because I was just ready to die.”
Authorities with the Family Crime Violence Office want to hear from any persons who feel they too may be a victim of Zakikhani’s crime.
Any potential victims can contact the unit at (713) 308-1100 and will be put in touch with a counselor, an officer or even a supervisor.