We worked with the police for over six months to provide evidence to prove that Philippe knew about his HIV status and intentionally infected his partners. Meanwhile, the health department tried to encourage Philippe to change his habits. Despite their efforts, he brazenly violated a cease and desist order. In July 2007, Philippe was arrested and charged with six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In the groundbreaking trial that followed, the state presented DNA evidence that Philippe was indeed the common denominator for all six victims. In May 2009, Philippe Padieu was found guilty and received a 45-year prison sentence.
A lot of media attention followed. It was surreal watching reporters try to track us down. Our earlier fears turned out to be well founded. Although we had put our reputations on the line to stop a predator, it was devastating to see that people on the Internet blogs were calling us "sluts," "one night stands" and "deserving whores." Due to interest in the case, however, we decided to work with the media to try and help educate people about HIV/AIDS.
What you can learn from our experience:
1. Nice-looking, polite gentlemen can indeed carry deadly diseases, and nice, old grandmas can get them.
2. Don't trust anyone.
3. BYOC: Bring your own condom.
4. INSIST on using the condom.
5. It is not uncommon for women to get HIV from their husbands or boyfriends who cheat or who are on the "down low" (having sex with other men).
6. Get tested every six months to one year if you are sexually active.
7. Ask your partner to also get tested.
8. Share your test results with each other.
It is a scary fact that over 200,000 people in the United States currently have HIV/AIDS and don't know it. The number of new infections is going up at an alarming rate for women of all ages, especially for women of color.
The fear and stigma associated with this diagnosis often keeps people from getting tested and obtaining treatment. As a result, the death rate goes up and more partners are at risk of infection.
Please get an HIV test. Getting a negative HIV test will give you peace of mind. Getting a positive result is a critical step to ensure you get treatment that can extend and possibly save your life. What you don't know CAN kill you.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of complacency and lack of education about HIV/AIDS. I never imagined something like this could happen to me. Many people say HIV is not a death sentence and all you need is a pill a day to handle the disease. They are sadly misinformed. Thousands of people in the United States still die of AIDS every year. If you don't know your HIV status and don't get treatment, you will very likely face a horrible outcome. Without treatment, you may also infect your partners—and they, in turn, will infect others. Please know that AIDS is still deadly and it does not discriminate based on race, gender, age, culture or social position.