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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

AIDS Criminals and Innocent Victims: Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?

By Catherine Hanssens, Esq.

September 29, 2009

This blog previously appeared on The Center for HIV Law and Policy's Web site and has been reprinted with permission.

On September 18th, ABC's "20/20" program aired a piece on five Texas women who slept with "HIV criminal" 53-year-old Philippe Padieu, convicted and sentenced to five concurrent 45-year sentences for infecting these women with HIV after failing to disclose his HIV status and having unprotected sex with them. I anticipated yet another sensationalized "expose'" pitting one or more unaware female victims against the evil person with HIV, narrated by a stunningly uninformed member of the media. Sad to say, I mostly got what I expected.

Padieu came across as an irresponsible freeloader hooking up with older women, giving them affection, intimacy, and sex (and HIV) in exchange for vacations, cell phones, and other perks. He apparently lived in denial about his HIV status, taking no effort to protect his sex partners from HIV and other diseases, or to protect himself from any STIs that they might have. With no evidence that he set out with a goal to infect his partners, he nonetheless seems to have set out to court and sleep with as many women as he could (although he also had sex with men) without concern or understanding of the risk of HIV and other STI transmission to his partners. He was chronically dishonest, lying about and hiding his other relationships, perhaps promising monogamy when it wasn't in the cards. Of course, at the same time his sex partners were exposing him to whatever STIs, diagnosed or otherwise, they might have, from herpes to hepatitis -- viruses that could further compromise his health and also increase the likelihood that sex would result in HIV transmission.

The sad story of these women provided a teachable moment for useful public education about HIV -- how it's transmitted, how even suburban women of means can become infected, how women can protect themselves, how unprotected sex can put any of us at risk -- and ABC blew it. The bottom line could have been that HIV is a virus, not a character flaw, and that even the kindest, most thoughtful, sexiest hunk in the world can have HIV and transmit it to you if you decide to roll the dice of unprotected sex. Instead, ABC opted for the sensational alternative reality of HIV risk as coming from serial predators motivated by the urge to infect women, and as a risk that couldn't reasonably have been anticipated or averted.

Years ago in Chautauqua, New York, after a young black man, Nushawn Williams, appeared to have infected several women, officials went into school rooms with pictures of this "AIDS Monster," as the press tagged Williams, and told the young women that they needed to get tested for HIV if they had slept with this man. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas chose to imitate this approach. Referring to Padieu's picture, Vargas intones, "if you had sex with this man, see a doctor." What she might have said, after exploring ways to address the vulnerability and self-esteem that motivate people to take risks with their health, is that yes, even nice middle-aged suburban white people get AIDS; that informed women know that it takes two unprotected people to transmit HIV; and that it is better to be safe than sorry, because you can't tell who's infected by looking or asking.

These women deserve empathy, although their reaction to their exposure and infection is disturbing. Decades after HIV's appearance, they believe that because they weren't sex workers or heroin users or women of color, they could never have anticipated being exposed to HIV. When asked about what they saw as their personal responsibility in the situation, each woman insisted that the responsibility was all Padieu's, that he misled them, and intended to harm as many women as he could. In the entire program, there was not one word about HIV being preventable, about the bottom line that anyone, male or female, who engages in unprotected sex based on a partner's statement's about their health status must assume a certain level of risk in doing so. It isn't cynical to say we can't rely on someone else to take care of our sexual health, it's common sense; most of the people spreading HIV don't even know they're infected.

So ABC may think they scored with yet another salacious tale of an AIDS monster ruining the lives of innocent women, but the true story is more complex; when it comes to public education and responsible, honest reporting, they utterly failed to make the grade.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Shirley H. (leesburg, FL) Mon., May. 20, 2013 at 4:30 am EDT
True - everybody shld be responsible for their sexual behavior-however the person being dishonest about their status by not telling them is being criminally irresponsible and shld be punished by law. The media shld be more responsible w/their reporting and shld check facts regarding the subject of HIV/AIDS.
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Comment by: sue ( bossier city, louisiana) Mon., Feb. 4, 2013 at 10:23 am EST
The one thing I haven't seen discussed about this case is type of sexual acts or activity that went on? My guessis anal
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Comment by: BMW Pricess (canada) Tue., May. 31, 2011 at 7:46 pm EDT
PPL with HIV are not freaks.
They don't want to go out and hurt others. HIV should not be criminalized. Would you say all ppl with cancer should be locked away?
When it comes down to it everyone is resonsible for their own body.
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Comment by: Paul (Canada) Sun., Mar. 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm EDT
I have followed this story for some time now as you can see by the date this is posted. While I fully agree that it "takes two", and that the women featured in this story bare some of the responsibility, Padieu was clearly the more responsible party in this case. We are not talking about your garden variety new relationship where statuses aren't discussed or tested. We are talking about someone who bold face lied to his multiple unprotected sex partners on numerous occasions. His burden of responsibility to inform was as great as any positive person, and I for one am glad the law recognized that in this instance. I feel that if the virus is passed unknowingly than no criminalization should be found; however, as in this case where the party was very much aware of his own status and maliciously passed it on to others, than yes I am all for criminalization. I do feel that it makes people take greater care if they are infected which can only help not hinder public health control efforts. It all comes down to education: education likely had everything to do with how Padieu saw himself, his denial about his status and seeking help or reaching out. The fact of the matter is that if society treated those with HIV with the courtesy, respect and tolerance they deserve than this most likely would not have been the outcome with Padieu. Padieu's actions are what's reprehensible here, not any particular virus.
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Comment by: dave (Pa.) Tue., Dec. 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm EST
@ Martie: you claim to be an"HIV counsellor?" Talk about judging and evaluating a potential clien from a perjorative point of view! If you are in fact a "ounsellor" I suggest you bone up on your interpersonal skills; I surely would not allow you to counsel me with your attitude.
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Comment by: tara (florida) Thu., Feb. 25, 2010 at 7:23 pm EST
I too think there are huge holes in this story and a great opportunity to teach has been missed. How can a previous RN get to full blown aids - why did she "go with him for an aids test" in the middle of what she says she thought was a monogamous relationship - did she have suspecions then? if so, why did she not ask to see the results? Big holes of missing information but signs pointing to a woman or women that had reservations yet continued on with the risky behavior - at that point - it's her responsibility not his - Also, this guy was a bonafid looser by all accounts - mooching off women, dishonerable discharge, prison time - did they not think his background or if he did not disclose his background his lack of one and vagabond status pointed to problems?
Yet, these women deserve our sympthy for the disease they now carry and I feel that their speaking out could be a changing influence if they speak the real truth - just speak the whole truth - it will help more than the half truth.
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Comment by: cabTheobe (United Kingdom) Thu., Feb. 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm EST
Money is so intangible, its almost like a promise and a piece of paper.
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Comment by: lcd (Syria) Mon., Jan. 25, 2010 at 5:40 am EST
Ah, the land of the free!
You have the right to free speech as long as you speak English.
--
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Comment by: Living Proof (Salt Lake City, UT) Tue., Dec. 1, 2009 at 3:59 am EST
I don't think we should dismiss any of this man's responsibility. The DNA evidence shows he really was a reckless monster with the very real possibility of countless other victims unknown and infected. That said, I totally agree that these women need their heads examined! As one who was infected by my partner of 7 years, I know first hand the feelings of betrayal these women must have but to blame only him for their infection is ludicrous! It takes two unprotected participants. We all need to be well aware of our personal responsibilities concerning our own health and not be allowed to escape the ugly truth that we blew it by shifting all the blame to others. How utterly juvenile! Shame on the media for distorting the reality of the AIDS epidemic just to make a cheap buck through sensationalism.
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Comment by: Sunray (NYC) Sat., Nov. 28, 2009 at 11:51 am EST
Mistakes happen. You trust someone and they are unfaithful; you can't always help what happens to you. But you have to try to be as safe as possibly. Get tested with your partner regularly. Tell them it's for their benefit as much as yours. It's your body and your life. You can't expect other people to worry about you when they might not worry about themselves. Take it from me: I'm a 23 year old virgin, but I've done a few things here and there, oral and what not, that I still have to check up on things and get tested. I'm telling you, I had a scare once and I learned my lesson about using a condom. I thought I had herpes but luckily the doctor was just wrong and the test was negative. Now honestly, STDS suck and make you feel shitty but they aren't life threatening, none of them COMPARE to HIV. None of them kill you. HPV can possibly cause cancer, but as long as you get paps regularly and be careful you're fine. AIDS is serious. These women make me so mad. They didn't think they "fit the profile". There is no profile, HIV doesn't discriminate. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE people reading these forums who have not been infected with HIV, take care of yourself and use protection. Get tested regularly and be wary of your partners. Even if you are with an honest person, they might not have been with an honest person before you. My friend was dating a guy for a couple years and they'd get tested every three months, just to be safe. My friend would never cheat on anyone. I thought his boyfriend was the same. One day I find out they broke up because the boyfriend went to this place called Dick Docks, where you have random sex with strangers. He had unprotected sex with someone and ended up getting HIV; my friend was devastated. They had been having sex for a month after,unprotected! So he got tested after three months. Negative. Another three months. Negative. Another three. Negative. Lucky bastard didn't end up getting it... he uses condoms every time now.
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Comment by: Marie (New Jersey) Wed., Nov. 25, 2009 at 1:58 pm EST
I'm sorry to say that we live in a world full of stigamation that will never change towards a person who aquires hiv/aids!! There are people who aquired hiv/aids innocently and are still being treated as a monster so to speak! Where is the luv for one another in this world? This is the reason why some don't disclose!!! No one wants to be treated badly becuz they aquired this madness. It's not fair at all! People need to wake up and educated and Know what they are talking about instead of judging someone & bashing others with this disease. This could happen to you, a memeber in your family, close friends and me! People are in denial about what can and will happen to them if they themselves don't take any precautions to prevent it from happening. This disease does not only comes from having sex!! Get reall people and get educated!!! Stop bashing people with this disease! The only judge is God himself!!! if god luvs them and except them for who they are with or without this disease who the heck cares you you people think!! remember something more worst then hiv/aids can take you out any day at any moment! so while you have a life know how to treat others as u would want to be treated!Bottom line get a life and live and learn!! everyone has feeling hiv/aids or not!! put yourself in someone elses shoes!!!
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Comment by: ed (las vegas) Fri., Nov. 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm EST
stop spreading your legs for every tom "dick' and harry and you won't have to wory about HIV
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Comment by: loson (BR) Fri., Nov. 20, 2009 at 6:57 am EST
To NOW ANGRY IN TX, As much as I support criminalizing HIV and understand how pissed you are, I do not think that HIV positive individuals should be put in the RESERVE. I suppose that you have been educated on how to avoid HIV otherwise peruse this site you posted your comment on and you will find it. HIV can only be transmitted through Bodily fluids so to make sure that your next partner is not HIV positive, make appointment with your GP to get him/her checked before you even wear condom to have sex. Make sure that you choose partner who is not promiscuous beforehand. Never engage in casual sex whether in a bar or on holiday. If you do not do this and get HIV, you will have yourself to blame though the accused will rot in jail with my full support. His/her action cannot be reversed. One last word: ALWAYS TRUST BUT VERIFY. HIV is indeed prevalent in Africa but we often forget that HIV can be found everywhere even in our backyard. I know this that is why I stayed negative till I am married and still negative till date.
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Comment by: NOW ANGRY IN TEXAS (Houston, Texas) Wed., Nov. 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm EST
Having just found out my partner (a bottom) is POZ and I am neg has made me mad as hell. While I did not see the TX special, I also CRIMINALIZE those who spread HIV to unsuspecting partners. It angers me that this country has quarantined for polio, influenza and Leprosy but refuses to quarantine for HIV! Those who have not been tested should be FORCED, YES MARY YOU READ THAT CORRECTYL) FORCED to be tested and then quarantined to protect the public at large. It means I and my partner would have to be seperated but.... It is a sacrifice we would have to make. STOP THE SPREAD OF HIV/AIDS QUARANTINE NOW! THEN WORK ON A CURE! Thats how pissed I AM NOW!!!!!
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Comment by: Raheem (Toronto, Ca) Tue., Nov. 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm EST
I was assaulted by someone with hiv, I feel very strongly there indeed are aids criminals. I died on that night and have been too scared to get tested. The condom tore and there was minimal two second contact. The doctors all told me it was low risk go find out your negative etc etc he was on treatment. I can't get passed it and I don't think I should be judged on my weakness rather he should be judged on his wickedness and he should rot in jail. Aids is a serious disease which impacts the quality of life for people living with it. You have the right to know and to refuse.
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Comment by: HarmReductionista (Oakland, CA) Thu., Nov. 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm EST
Funny how men who have sex with men and lower income women of color are infected at astonishing rates everyday, but the poor plight of scared (sub)urbanite white women is waved in the air like a call to battle. I was scared; I AM scared. I was angry; and sometimes, I still AM angry, but I would NEVER wish the person who carried my virus a life in prison. How awful, and inhuman. Nobody should be criminalized, least of all for a problem that the government, industry and society created and has sustained for over two decades. The government must introduce a national Harm Reduction strategy, and repeal draconian laws prohibiting funding for HIV/AIDS education so that it may include all the education that it has been denying the public for far too long now. Interestingly, so many of the comments on this forum ardently support the lines of reasoning that this blog seems to decry, even when the commenters proclaim their concordance.
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Comment by: loson (BR) Tue., Nov. 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm EST
To Susan Brown, Good Job though you have to learn your lesson the hard way. HIV positive individuals are some how in a typical position of trust at personal level for me. Any harm caused by their action is grossly abuse of trust and should be severely punished. They can run but can never hide from the law of the land. For all of you who are still negative, if you want a sex partner look up for someone who is not promiscuious, sexual disease conscious than contraception conscious, tested hiv negative by your GP. The problem often starts when dating a person who likes to have sex with many partners tested or untested, protected or unprotected.
To HIV postive individuals, stay strong and live positively regardless of sex restrictions, stigma that comes with the virus. You can help prevent more harm from this virus by not having unprotected sex with negative individuals whether the sex is consensual or not. It is not good to criminalise your sex acts but what can you do when it brings exchange of deadly virus nobody bargains for. Since the law cannot hold the virus, then it is you that allows it to cause harm that will be hold responsible. HIV may not be the most deadly, but is one of the incurable and highest stigmatised illness on the face of earth till date.
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Comment by: Kim Washington (Safety Harbor, FL) Tue., Nov. 10, 2009 at 12:29 am EST
I know lying, cheating are "bad" behaviors, but when are we going to understand keeping your head in the sand and holding another person responsible for your own health and well-being are "bad" behaviors.
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Comment by: Sarah L (New York) Sun., Nov. 8, 2009 at 11:11 am EST
I am a women that was infected by a man (my husband) who didn't tell me that he was HIV infected. I am a well educated (Master's prepared health professional and worked in HIV/AIDS for many years). How did this happen? I don't know every six months for five years we both tested negative, he worked for the Dept. of Health and probably created his negative test results. I blame him and myself because I took the risk and was deeply in love with him. I blame him because he never received HIV/AIDS treatment and he could have protected me. He died six months after he was diagnosed with AIDS. For me it's been 9 years and I am still living and thriving, I learned a lot from my mistake and would not call myself an innocent victim.
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Comment by: Noneya (Ga) Wed., Nov. 4, 2009 at 11:36 pm EST
Aren't we all scared that at some point an ex that we disclosed our status to will be upset and say we didn't inform them? I typically only date positive women for this reason, but have dated negative women. Every time I hear about a case of someone going to jail for nondisclosure I can't help but wonder if it is only revenge from a scorned woman.
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Comment by: nicole williams (houston tx) Wed., Nov. 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm EST
i feel the world needs to wake up because diseases are here to stay. if you don't want keep legs closed and your pants zipped because diseases will flip in to nickel you once was fine but now it's your mine that is fine to all my people going threw keep your head up ps niky
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Comment by: Josh (Wyoming) Mon., Nov. 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm EST
While everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves, the man in this case does deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison. HIV, even with the most liberal estimates, has infected about 0.3% of the straight, white population. Outside of metro areas, the number is even smaller. In my home state, in almost 30 years, there have only been 38 cases of HIV in the heterosexual population. And, only about 20% of those with the disease don't know they have it. While it is true the disease can affect anyone, and has touched every sector of the population in some small degree- there really isn't any statistical reason for any of these women to have thought they were at high risk for sleeping with a man who was positive AND didn't know it. HIV does affect everyone, but quite clearly doesn't infect everyone equally. It is quite possible all of these women could have had several partners throughout the rest of their lives and never became infected with any STD's. It's also possible one of them may have been an unlucky minority and came across a man who didn't know he was infected and became infected themselves, in which case they would have played the odds and lost. The deck was stacked against them here, from a man who knew he was infected and CHOSE to infect other people. We are afraid of what we see affecting us and those like us, period. The responsibility is shared only in a scenerio where both people are of unknown status... like pulling the trigger of a gun and not knowing if it has any bullets in it or not, while the person who handed it to you knows the chamber is full. To have such a monster running around to infect other people is quite literally having a killer loose who has an unlimited amount of ammo. This is the poster case for criminal prosecution of HIV transmission, and I'm glad the BA****D is behind bars forever. God bless and wishes for the best of health to these poor women.
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Comment by: dazey (Minnesota) Mon., Nov. 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm EST
TO RICK in WA

Hetero also - agree - my own fault and the lack of education available to the hetero community. I mean, seriously, I would have forced that condom on had I seen what a human looks like after living with AIDS and surviving toxic medications for years.


I agree with your statements - I was just writing about how the gay society is bamboozelling the politicians for more "AIDS" money.

I've had HIV for 16 years - I don't need any funding.
Anyhow I wonder if the AIDS legislation will cover the cost of his 5 x 45 years sentence under the category HIV prevention!? LOL

No seriously it should.
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Comment by: dazey (Minnesota) Mon., Nov. 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm EST
Even though he knows he has it only makes him 50% responsible.
Each of the women is 50% responsible.

That one female in the Dakotas was beyond intoxicated and snatched from a bar, totally blacked out she and her snatcher had unprotected sex. He got h.i.v. from her. SHE went to prison.

I wouldn't send the person who gave it to me to prison even if I could here in MN. I chose not to have protected sex. And that's all you need to avoid h.i.v.

All the ads say learn how to protect yourself. Now we're saying it's the other partners 100% responsibility?

I don't agree whatsoever.
I think he should have a tatto on his face (like on his forehead) that says he has h.i.v.

I would get one if I had to.
You don't even want to know how many men wanted to have unprotected sex with me even after I told them!

Does it say much about their characters if they were willing to purchase all those gifts for him? In this day and age what gigolo doesn't have a std?

Oh boy, I hate it when females play dumb and then become vicious female dogs when they don't get what they want.

Great it's nice to know that our judicial system is influenced by temper tantrums.

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Comment by: Delphine Butler (Staten Island New York) Fri., Oct. 30, 2009 at 9:53 am EDT
You know the writings on the wall. In this day and time people need to get real and learn that it is your personal responsibilty to take care of yourself. With Aids no one no one is exempt. Because we live in a world where there are such people like Padieu and Aids is an equal oppurtunity disease, we need to stay ever mindfull of the vital need for education and prevention. I'd like to not only thank Susan Brown for her comments and her awareness of just how ignorant is not only our communities which consist of our neighbors but our health community as well. So many doctors today feel that if you don't fit into acertain demographic that you are exempt. I'd like to also commend your courage to disclose but also your call to educate and let people know no matter where you are who you are or whether you live on Park Ave or a bench in the park, AIDS don't discriminate. It's not about placing blame and although disclosure can be lonely, confidentialty is not your right to place others at risk.
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Comment by: HIVescapee (earth) Thu., Oct. 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm EDT
to (Peace). All I am saying is that these women put themselves at risk. Nomatter how much you come to trust someone, nomatter how healthy they look, you cannot just take their word that they are negative. Because once you are infected, we all know there is no reverse - blaming the other person is not going to cure you of the disease. Do your due dilligence - go together for hiv tests. Then as trust builds and you get to know each other, you can do away with the protection..... and even then with some caution. I say with caution because I am a married woman who escaped the HIV virus the last 10years (hence my screen name HIVescapee). My husband now has AIDS but is still as fit as a fiddle. He knew he was positive but never told me. like someobody mentioned earlier, maybe he thought if he told me then I would not want to have sex with him.
I only "accidentally" found out about his condition 3 yrs ago - found an empty bottle of pills in the car, googled and found out they were for HIV treatment. FYI - I bore 4 healthy kidz in the last 8yrs. It's a miracle that my children and I were spared. Even now, I still blame MYSELF for having exposed myself - you know why? He had slept with women of all kinds before we settled together and since he looked healthy, I did not feel the need to go for any health screenings. Also, out of shear ignorance, I inferred that since my HIV tests during all my 4 pregnancies were negative, then he too was negative. But guess what? I was wrong! not every exposure leads to an infection. So to everyone out there, do your DUE DILLIGENCE. REGRET & BLAME are not the solution. nip it in the bud if you can. BLESS YOU ALL.
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Comment by: M Jones (Alexandria, City) Thu., Oct. 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm EDT
All coment has there own tone and truth, as much as we educate whether it's done in Testing Clinics (FREE) we encourage partners(new) to come in and get tested before having sex which will at least gave them some idea of one other's HIV status at that time, we know that there are those who have never been tested and are at great risk for STI's-HIV so they are not aware of their status, but for those who are aware and we are aware also it is by law that we can not diclose that person HIV status if we know that they are having sex with another person whether protected or unprotected, so we are asked to take responsibilty for our own decision, get tested or cover up?
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Comment by: n (houston tx) Thu., Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm EDT
there no such thing is save sex if a man and a woman have sex what if he have on a comdom now that do there thing there still a change she can get infection because that sperm still can come out comdom because after aman then shot off an they still that sperm can come out the comdom because it slide
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Comment by: Terri (Louisiana) Thu., Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:02 am EDT
Phillipe Padieu is a monster. He had knowledge of his infection and never told these women and exposed them again and again. I know that criminalization of spreading HIV can be a slippery slope but the public needs some protection against predators who would knowingly expose others to HIV. Sure these women failed themselves by trusting this man and they live with the effects of their decision everyday. They are left being RESPONSIBLE for dealing with the disease, the stigma and the affects it has on their entire lives. Phillip Padieu should be responsible for his actions also. I wonder if all of these people who disagree with the prosecution of this case would rather see this guy out on the streets still infecting unsuspecting, loving, trusting women? I just wonder what kind of stigma those of us who live with this disease would have to face if the whole world thought we could just indiscriminately infect anyone we wanted to without any RESPONSIBILITY for our actions? That's not the type of stigma that I'm willing to accept. We, the HIV infected community, have a responsibility to stop the spread of this disease and there is no place in society for those of us who would ignore that responsibility.
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Comment by: peace (alabama) Wed., Oct. 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm EDT
this is in response to hivescapee,do you really believe it was these women choice to get hiv,to me these women were innoscent through no fault of their own, whether a person use protection or not how many people you know will have sex with you if you tell them you are hiv pos,not very many case close.......
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Comment by: Ann (MD) Wed., Oct. 28, 2009 at 12:09 am EDT
It does take two to tango...I agree. It also takes a country that values it's people over its profits. SEX is everywhere used to sell breakfast foods to porn. And, yet we still allow politicians to dictate & shape the messages
related to sex education.

These women are like many women; a look at Craig's List will tell you that the HIV/AIDS crisis has not even begun to reach its peak.
On CL many white people feel they are not at risk; even as they volunteer to engage in any and all sex acts without protection.

I am struck by this fact; even these in touch, often educated people are Ignorant about safety.
When I question them; their ignorance is palpable..sadly their choices will contribute to HIV/AIDS affecting more of the atypical citizens.

So, we can blame whomever we want; many are simply ignorant....and that speaks to our failure as a nation. Thanks and I have much respect for those strong individuals who are living with this disease. I love the statement that HIV (Herpes, etc.) is a virus; not a character flaw. Thank you.
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Comment by: DAVID (BRONX NY) Tue., Oct. 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm EDT
IT WAS DONE TO ME. I AM NOW ABOUT TO TAKE MY FOURTH TEST BECAUSE MY EX FIANCE OF 3 YRS DIDN'T TELL ME SHE WAS HIV POSITIVE. HER WHOLE FAMILY KNEW SHE WAS FOR 15 YRS. WE HAD UNPROTECTED SEX FOR 2 1/2 YRS AND SO FAR I HAVE BEEN COMING UP NEGATIVE BUT I PRAY EVERYDAY THAT THE NEXT TEST I TAKE DOESN'T UPSET ME. I AM OBVIOUSLY NOT THE 1ST GUY SHE HAS DONE THIS TOO.. THERE SHOULD BE SOME TYPE OF LAW TO ENFORCE NOT VOLUNTARILY TELL PARTNERS BECAUSE THIS IS HOW THE VIRUS IS SPREADING MORE AND MORE.. AND UNLESS I GOT INFECTED, GOD FORBID, THERE REALLY ISN'T MUCH I CAN DO ABOUT IT ESPECIALLY IN NY.
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Comment by: Shorty B (Philadelphia) Tue., Oct. 27, 2009 at 6:41 pm EDT
This comment is directed to Susan Brown. You said he lied but did you even opt to ask his HIV status? Take some of the responsibility for laying down without protection. If it had not been HIV it could have been an STD. Stop making an assumption and do your homework. I guess it is true, a man can talk a lady right out of her panties if she lets him. Women open up your mouth it's okay to ask a person's status and if they don't want to tell you, move on because there may be a consequence if you don't.
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Comment by: HIVescapee (earth) Tue., Oct. 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm EDT
While it would have been the RIGHT thing to do for Padieu to inform these women of his HIV status, it was also these women's RESPONSIBILITY to have protected sex. These women need to pick themselves up, shoulder responsibility, and educate the rest of of the risks of their behavior.

The particular groups I personally sympathize with are those who get infected through no choice of their own:
1. children born to HIV parent(s).
2. the innocent married who are infected by their unfaithful spouses.
3. medical practitioners & regular citizens who accidentally get infected through blood etc.
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Comment by: peace (alabama) Mon., Oct. 26, 2009 at 11:09 pm EDT
come on please i am tired of people saying it's the woman fault for not protecting herself. it's called "trusting" if you ask someone their status and they lie and say they are negative, to me this is entrappment and also what about the choice to give a person so they can make their own decision on whether they want to be with a hiv positive person SHOULDN'T THEY HAVE A CHOICE!!! IT'S NO EXCUSE FOR GIVING SOMEONE HIV,THE TESTS ARE FREE!
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Comment by: Matt (TX) Mon., Oct. 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm EDT
As a gay man I'm so many times amazed at the readyness of so many men to jump into bed with a complete stranger and have unprotected sex. Usually, they don't even ask for their random encounter partner's status, sort of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" policy in the HIV world. Watching that ABC program shows me that women are not much different in that respect, and acting irresponsible, and then blaming the "other party" for their recklessness is pathetic. You, and only You, are responsible to your actions. Grow up and stop putting other people in jails...

PS: even if you do bother to raise the HIV status question with your random partner it doesn't releave you from YOUR responsibility to still protect yourself. The other party may be unaware of his/her status or even if they are aware they may just feel ashamed or affraid to disclose. Not necessarilly them being protective of their privacy constitutes a "lie with the intent to infect".
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Comment by: mary (michigan) Mon., Oct. 26, 2009 at 7:43 am EDT
Hiv is a rare occurence for white women who live outside major cities. People want to live in a fairy tale world of no disease. But Padeau should not be perceived as an innocent. He knowingly infected these women. Being naive is not a crime but putting others life at risk is. This is happening everyday and women are the one dying.
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Comment by: AJ (Michigan) Sun., Oct. 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT
I exactly feel the same way about what "Gio from Chicago wrote." Besides the few health issues that I tend with, the worse part of having HIV is having sex after being diagnosed. IT SUCKS.... IT's depressing, lonely, and makes me angry. You wouldn't believe the discrimination I put up with still, in the year 2009, from the gay community. I have tried to tell someone right from the start that I'm positive, and whether it be the next day or next month, I'm turned away. I try waiting until things are going to turn sexual, and then it's true, they feel like they were already lied to, and it makes them and myself angry and sad and for me, confused. So, I'm stuck going back and forth in my head, trying to find the correct answer for when to tell someone I am HIV. And the only thing that I have realized and that I know is true is that unless people can stop being so positive-phobic and start learning the facts about HIV, I may never again have a happy sex life. And what sucks is that I am only 30 years old.
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Comment by: Gio (Chicago) Sat., Oct. 24, 2009 at 2:26 am EDT
I am a positive male living with HIV for at least 15 years. Sex after a diagnosis is probably the most difficult part of living with HIV, after the health aspects. For me, I just stopped having sex for a while because I didn't know how to tell my partners. When I decided to start dating again I knew the only way to deal was to be open and honest. The problem is that if you tell your partner in the early stages, likely they will never become your partner. If you wait until the relationship is about to become physical, before any sex, most people feel like they have already been lied to. Now, I strive to find other positive men to date because I have never found the "right" time to disclose my status. I believe that untill there is more understanding of HIV, this is only a problem that will become worse before it gets better.
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Comment by: rodney (Delaware) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm EDT
I seen that story and it missed the mark in many ways that day but what disturbed the most about it was the woman from CDC of that state that made the comment that women are more likely to contract the the disease from men when i found that not to be true. With so many STDs out there you can contract this disease like so many other just by having unprotected sex. My point being people need to stop saying that men pass this disease and many others around like it's candy when we all have accept the responsibility of our own health and safety of our lives cause as the saying goes (if not you then who?)
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Comment by: nicole (houston tx) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm EDT
i feel they hold the key to they problem just as well he did what if he did told them he was poistive then you have some people wont blame after true have been over look what if the doctors didtn tell him he was postive then who to blame
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Comment by: Deborah (New York) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 10:15 am EDT
Condoms always work better than trust in preventing HIV. No one - including middle-class white women - can deny personal responsibility for becoming HIV infected with the excuse, "I trusted him. I loved him. It's his fault because he lied to me." Trust, love, monogamy and marriage are NOT HIV prevention methods. One more time: Trust is not a prevention method. Love is not a prevention method. Monogamy is not a prevention method. Marriage is not a prevention method.
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Comment by: TC (New York) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 9:39 am EDT
if you willingly decide to have unsafe vaginal/anal sex with someone than there is no one to blame but yourself. People in the United States are looking for anyway they can to blame someone else, make themselves look like a victim and make a quick buck from a civil law suite. Greed....pure and simple...the American way.
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Comment by: Susan Brown (Addison, TX) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 5:07 am EDT
Ms. Hanssens, this comment comes to you from Susan Brown, one of the women interviewed by 20/20. I hate to be called a victim, but that is the label applied when a crime is involved. Because we came forward to press charges we've been called far worse: Stupid, sluts, deserving whores, etc. We knew we would be vilified, but hoped that people would learn from what happened to us. 20/20 did a good job showing our misconceptions about the disease, we did not think of ourselves at risk, we were blinded by trust, love, a man that lied and appeared to be physically fit, and living a healthy lifestyle. Our Doctors also did not think we were at risk. They saw the classic symptoms and didn't put it together. I was aksed by my Dr. if I used drugs, if Philippe was black (he is caucasian), if he used drugs, needles, was bisexual, had been to prison, etc. My HIV Dr. was shocked to see a "white chick" walk into his office. You are right, these are the things we need to educate the public about. HIV/AIDS does not discriminate based on gender, race, class, etc. Do I think HIV should be criminalized? No, it should not. But what do you do with a person who knowingly and intentionally infects people, who is repeatedly counseled, warned to stop by 2 court orders, (yet continues even the day after receiving court orders), has a history of violence & assault. He threatened his "victims" to be silent so he could carry on with his "right" to have sex. Were we "weak" females supposed to cringe, crawl in a hole and die? How could we,knowing his condition & the lies, watch him continue to put other people at risk? Now this is a social responsibility. Honestly, If I had not tried to put him away I would feel accessory to his continued crimes. I hope our case has brought enough attention to educate a public who has grown complacent & thinks this is not a death sentence. He watched with pleasure as we got sick. Without diagnosis & treatment some of us progressed to AIDS & near death.
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Comment by: Martie (HIV Counsellor) (South Africa) Fri., Oct. 23, 2009 at 12:56 am EDT
Any person stupid enough to be intimate without knowing the partner's RECENT status is a knitwitt and a moron!
If any of those woman had asked him to do an HIV test with them; things might have turned out differently.
We are all born with COMMON SENSE and has the ability to CONTROL our OWN DESIRES.
Each of us are responsible FOR YOURSELF ONLY - so proptect yourself first - then only are you responsible TO OTHERS.
IT is time that people EVERYWHERE realise that ANYONE CAN GET INFECTED WITH HIV - it does not matter if you are 'married' or what the color of your skin might be!!!!
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Comment by: Jamal (Thailand) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 11:18 pm EDT
Well, a big thanks to the great state of Texas, which has proved that the best prevention of HIV/AIDS is to ask your partner to disclose his/her status. If they don't, they are breaking the law and they will be appropriately punished. We will probably see an enormous drop in new infections in Texas after this verdict.
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Comment by: Neal Rzepkowski, MD (Cassadaga, NY) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 11:12 pm EDT
Catherine, you are "right on" in your comments. I still care for over half of the women in this county infected by Nushawn. All but one did not press charges back then. They all knew "it takes two to tango". (even the one who pressed charges) None of them saw him as a "monster". The "teachable moment" has come and gone in this county. It may have lasted longer and been more effective had your suggestions been used.
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Comment by: James (Redding, Ca) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 11:10 pm EDT
Of course if we actually have personally responsibility, we don't need huge overburdening Government to come to our rescue. Their only means of survival is to convince you that your the helpless victim in life.
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Comment by: Jamal (Thailand) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm EDT
Well, a big thanks to the great state of Texas, which has proved that the best prevention of HIV/AIDS is to ask your partner to disclose his/her status. If they don't, they are breaking the law and they will be appropriately punished. We will probably see an enormous drop in new infections in Texas after this verdict.
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Comment by: Mine (SLC) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 10:30 pm EDT
I have been directly involved with these women and I can say that I am apprehensive about the criminalization of HIV too. BUT, through DNA analysis, these women were directly connected through the same source. This has been traced through women in the mid 90's in the state of Michigan, long before Texas. He had HIV for many years, was tested with positive results, denied county health orders after attending groups, refused to inform and wear protection after ordered by these health officials. He is a perpetrator, regardless! Maybe these women do hold a part of the responsibility for not protecting themselves, but that is no excuse for HIS conduct. If this court had not stopped him, he would have fled and continued to infect as many women as possible. I am not in favor of criminalizing HIV either, but this type of behavior cannot be allowed.
Denial regardless of the form is not an excuse HE KNEW FOR OVER 10 YEARS! 5 women is only a small part of the ones that came forward, there were many, many more that were tested, and many more that never came forward, suffering in silence or dying because they never knew they were infected.
He is where he needs to be, 45 years in the hole.
By the way, race has nothing to do with this, he is as white as a sheet!
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Comment by: james (LaGrange, GA) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm EDT
ABC blows in several ways when it comes to news reporting
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Comment by: Nikki (South Carolina) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 8:35 pm EDT
I feel that this man should not have been placed in jail. The women choose to lay down and engage in sex with this man. They are just as much thr blame for not protecting themselves. He didn't rape them. They were 2 consenting adults so what responsability do they share? It was good for them at the moment and now that they are positive they are demeaning this man. Not fair at all. Not to say that he was right in what he did by knowing his status but it takes 2 to tango
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Comment by: David (Dallas, Tx.) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 8:27 pm EDT
I have followed this story through the local media and they have portrayed Mr. Padieu as a monster from the begining. I was infected by an unfaithful partner, but I take responsibility because there was doubt in my mind that he was being totally honest with me. I am an educated professional, and knew the risks.

I can understand the anger associated with becoming HIV Positive, but it all comes back to personal responsibility and education.

These women are in a grief process right now and will soon realize their role in their infection. As for the media; they are just concerned about making their ratings rather than being objective and informed. The reality is there are six victims; the five women and Mr. Padieu. Obviously he was not informed or was in serious denial and didn't know how to deal with the fact of becoming HIV positive. Just knowing that you will be considered "Damaged Goods", and having to relive it each time you meet someone new is just overwhelming. If he was directed to appropriate counseling and education, this could of most likely been prevented and stop the further spreading of this virus.

I was informed of my status on an operating table with the doctor and nurses in haz-mats suits; before I could even respond they had administered the anesthesia. The bedside manor they displayed was so unprofessional, uncaring, all because I was a gay male infected with HIV. So, lack of education is not only lacking in the general public; but also the medical community as well. I pray that we all can learn a lesson from these mistakes and move forward. Thanks, Dave in Dallas

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Comment by: Rick (Tri Cities, WA) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 7:09 pm EDT
This sh*t needs to be cured and soon, the goddamn republicans at the outset of hiv thought it was the cure for being gay, man are these guys retarded, instead of funding research they decided to let it kill as many people as possible thinking it would cure societies ills, it is a disease that effects all of us, I am hetero thru and thru and got it that way,,,,,
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Comment by: POZ in Texas (Austin, TX) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm EDT
I saw the ABC program and was as dumbfounded as the author. They made the ladies look like helpless victims. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for your own actions. Don't believe anybody statements. Make the guy wear a condom. I was infected by a guy, because I believed what he told me. My getting POZ is MY FAULT !!! I did not make him wear a condom. I can only blame myself.
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Comment by: NYGuy (New York) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 2:15 pm EDT
Unfortunately, this story also aired on Oprah Tuesday, with an equally salacious story angle. AIDS comes to heterosexual suburban Texas!! These women have children! Many were married for longer than ten years! On top of it all, the "AIDS monster" served as the object of the women's misdirected rage because he is other than caucasian. He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. Unbelievable. How can it be legal to disclose his health status on national television? How can there be dignity for those living with HIV when the media makes millions by exploiting public fear and ignorance?
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Comment by: Lori (Georgia) Thu., Oct. 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm EDT
Maybe our society should do more HIV outreach education to white women who live in suburbs. Very little targets this group....
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HIV Law & Policy


Catherine Hanssens has been active in HIV legal and policy issues since 1984. She is the executive director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, the first national legal resource and strategy center for people with HIV and their advocates.

Previously, Hanssens lead the development of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's HIV litigation and policy work as the AIDS project director for eight years. During her earlier work with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Hanssens created and managed a model on-site legal assistance program for single parents with HIV in Philadelphia-area hospitals and clinics that brought together legal, medical and social services.


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Articles by Catherine:

Lost in the Shuffle: Women's Right to Choose, Not Just Refuse, HIV Testing (March 4, 2009)

HIV and Young People: The Crisis Is Now (July 6, 2001)

For the rest of Catherine's articles, click here.

Interviews With Catherine:

This Month in HIV: Sex, Privacy and the Law When You're HIV Positive (October 2007)


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