A man who was deliberately infected with HIV has bravely waived his right to anonymity to share his story.
Lenny, an American man living in Brighton, discovered he was HIV positive in February 2016 after Daryll Rowe secretly ripped the condom they were using.
Dubbed the ‘HIV hairdresser’ Rowe, from Edinburgh, became the first person to be convicted in the UK for deliberately infecting others with the virus and was jailed for life in April 2018.
He is said to have embarked on a ‘revenge’ campaign on the gay community after he was diagnosed with HIV himself, and met his victims on gay dating app Grindr.
Lenny is one of five men who tell their stories in new BBC documentary The Man Who Used HIV As a Weapon.
He told how Rowe was ‘adamant’ about having unprotected s3x after the pair met online, and didn’t tell him about the sabotaged condom until several weeks after they had slept together.
After they slept together ‘things got a little weird’, according to Lenny, who says Rowe quickly became ‘possessive’ and ‘insulting’ in a string of abusive WhatsApp messages.
It was only after Lenny tried to block the Scotsman that he received the chilling phone call that caused his world to come crashing down.
You’re gonna burn… you’re st*pid. I ripped the condom, I got you
Says Lenny, who recalls feeling a ‘rush of fear’ come over him.
Initially he didn’t take Rowe’s threat seriously, but after he became sick two weeks later he visited a clinic where he tested positive for HIV.
I remember saying to myself, how can I be so st*pid,’ says Lenny, who ‘felt like his life was over’
When the nurse revealed she’d seen four men with identical cases, all relating to an unnamed Scotsman, Lenny went straight to Sussex Police who immediately linked his ordeal to a string of similar reports in the North East.
Police arrested Rowe and handed him into the custody of Police Scotland, who discovered he had targeted hundreds of other men on dating apps and were forced to issue a public health warning.
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