I met Amy through a friend – a friend who knew my HIV status. We got on really well and she asked if I wanted to meet up again another time. I did, and so we met up again a couple of weeks later.
We got on well again, and before long we were heading for the bedroom. I didn’t want to have to talk about having HIV at that stage – I was pretty certain it would put her off. I had some condoms with me and Amy had some too. She was pretty insistent on having sex, and I was happy to oblige!
There was some brief penetration without a condom, but I quickly stopped and put one on, before we carried on.
We met up a few times after that. It was nice, but I think we both knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term arrangement.
Anyway, next thing I knew, our mutual friend had decided she was unhappy with the fact we were having sex and that I hadn’t told Amy about my HIV, so she told her for me. I worked this out after receiving an abusive email from Amy, calling me all the names under the sun. She was obviously upset and scared and she was really angry and aggressive. She threatened to involve the police.
She tested negative, of course, but was told she should test again after three months and so felt she was being put through three months of unnecessary anguish. I apologised over and over again, even though I didn’t think I’d put her at any risk, but I felt terrible that she was so worried.
Then she called the police and gave them my phone number. They called me on a Friday night, to tell me they’d like me to come and talk to them. I live in London, but Amy lives miles away. I called the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and they put me in contact with the THT in that area. I took a day off work to go and see the police and a person from THT met me and came to the police station with me.
They called a lawyer for me, but there wasn’t anyone with experience in this area, so he was a bit out of his depth!
The police were nice and friendly until we went into the interview room and then it was just horrible. They were really judgmental and had obviously made up their minds about me based on Amy’s side of the story. They thought I was in the wrong and seemed to be trying to get me to admit that I’d been trying to infect her.
It was harrowing, and hard to answer all their questions without getting angry about the way they were treating me.
They didn’t charge me with anything, but they obviously wanted to. They were talking about ‘attempted GBH’.
It was hard because I felt morally wrong and with hindsight I probably would have done things differently. Maybe I would have waited longer before having sex, but I was trying to live my life normally and I thought I was protecting her – well, I did protect her. But it’s not that straightforward. HIV is still something people are scared of; it’s not as easy as just living your life because you do have to factor in the stigma and ignorance.
And it is still a dangerous virus to have, if it’s not diagnosed early enough, so I do feel there is a moral responsibility on those who know they’re positive. That might not be politically correct, but it’s what I think.
Anyway, I could have had better judgment, but I hadn’t done anything criminally wrong. I came home, chastised, not charged, but waiting to hear from the police. I’d lost Amy and lost friends – close friends who I thought would support me, but who had reacted really badly.
The local CPS [crown prosecution service] took months to make their decision. I was really fortunate as people at THT were lobbying on my behalf. They were fantastic and I really couldn’t have asked for more support from them. I felt I had people who knew what they were talking about on my side, which was an enormous help for my mental health. Everyone at THT who helped me throughout the process did a fantastic job – I didn’t realise they could help me so much and it was such a relief that they were able to.
THT put me in touch with a good lawyer, who took over the notes of my case and with his help the police eventually told me there would be no charge. It was a huge weight off my mind.
But, a few weeks later, one of the policemen phoned me up one evening and basically warned me to be a good boy – he said something along the lines of ‘we’re watching you’.
I’m still angry about it – and angry that they took my DNA and hold it in the much-publicised database. I don’t like the idea of my DNA and my HIV status being on a database somewhere. I think if there’s no charge brought against you, your DNA should be destroyed. I don’t want to publicise my status by making a fuss, but I hope that the people who are campaigning for a change to the law succeed.
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