Being diagnosed with a disease like HIV has devastating effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional states. Finding out you were knowingly infected by your partner deepens the wound.
Oprah guest Diane Reeve appeared on the show in 2009 to tell her HIV story. She fell in love with her beau Philippe Padieu and was in a long term relationship for four years before she found out his secret. His intentions with her were not pure.
Changes in his behavior led her to believe Philippe was being unfaithful, which he denied. After discovering voicemail messages confirming her suspicions, Diane broke up with him. But the breakup left her with more than a broken heart. A routine visit to her doctor resulted in a series of tests that revealed she was HIV positive.
Diane later found out that Philippe was seeing multiple women – at least nine others – while with her. It was exposed that he knew of his HIV status yet continued to keep that information from women that he was dating. She and the other women banded together to bring him to justice.
Police charged Philippe with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He spread the infection to Diane, the other nine women (and possibly more), who all agreed to testify against him. Prosecutors labeled him a predator.
Speaking with Oprah, she described what it was like hearing the jury deliver their verdict:
“As he said ‘guilty’ each time, my heart got a little bit lighter, and a little bit lighter, and a little bit lighter, until at the end when they gave the verdict for the sixth victim. I knew that we had won.”
Initially, Diane operated under a false name during the court proceedings due to the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. She courageously chose to share her experience on TV as a way to convey that the disease can affect anyone.
Today, Diane is also a public speaker and activist for AIDS awareness. She’s working to educate people about HIV/AIDS, victim blaming, and having a normal quality of life with the virus. Diane hopes her work changes the perception of what AIDS looks like.
As far as Philippe, who is now 60, he’s behind bars trying to appeal his sentence. Texas is not the only state that enforces criminal laws and penalties for knowingly transmitting a STI to someone without their knowledge or consent. Laws vary from state to state on which infections are included and whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. Civil cases are common in these situations as well.
At least Diane has found healing in some small ways, and hasn’t stopped living life because of her status. Further, her courage to seek justice for herself and the other women is something to be commended.
Are you familiar with Diane’s story and this court case? What do you think of Padieu’s criminal behavior? Tell us in the comments!