Some people rob banks with guns. And other people are a little more creative: Police say an elderly woman robbed a bank last week by handing the clerk a note indicating that "she had AIDS and would give it to a teller if he didn't cooperate."

The woman, described as "between the ages of 55 and 75 with a 'boney build'" and clad in "a train conductor's cap and a gray sweat shirt," presented the threatening note to the teller of a Wells Fargo branch inside a Safeway on Thursday night. During the robbery, she "coughed frequently into a blue bandana."

We feel duty-bound to note certain problems with the woman's strategy. For one thing, you cannot infect someone with AIDS directly; you can only infect them with HIV, and then wait, assuming your victim doesn't have access to antiretroviral therapy, until the disease progresses to AIDS.

For another thing, there are only a handful of bodily fluids that can transmit HIV—blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk—which means that, to follow through on her threat, the woman would have had to:

  • Share a needle with the bank teller
  • Force the bank teller to accept a blood transfusion, from her
  • Have unprotected vaginal or anal sex with the bank teller (pitching or catching)
  • Breast-feed the bank teller
  • Give birth to the bank teller

Needless to say, the teller could likely have refused the robber's demands without being at high risk of AIDS infection.

[Reuters; TimesCall]