The Claude Nicole sexual health clinic at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County hospital delivered the news: He was HIV-positive.“I was mortified,” he said, looking away suddenly, scanning the half-empty restaurant. A lot of emotions – guilt, upset, [feeling] that I should have known better.”The illness he had suffered was a set of flu-like symptoms that typically occur two or three weeks after HIV is transmitted during a process called seroconversion, where the virus replicates and floods the immune system – when it takes hold.
For most people, the diagnosis means far more than a medical condition, but for Oliver, the resonances of it echoed right back through his life.“My parents died of AIDS,” he said. My mum caught it from him.” Determined to avoid contracting the same virus that eventually killed them, Oliver had scrupulously ensured he always used a condom – until the day he met Rowe.“I spent all my fucking life looking after myself,” he said, adding a question he knew the answer to: “How?
The following day, Oliver was too busy to respond to a message from Rowe, and so the day after that – Sunday – he sent Rowe a message on Whats App.
“He went ballistic [and said]: ‘You meet me and then don’t talk to me…you’re crazy.’”He called Oliver “stupid” and “dumb”, and accused him of playing with Rowe’s feelings.
I said condom.’” He gave Rowe a condom, who put it on, and went behind him, with Rowe on all fours, to have sex.
Afterwards, Oliver went to the bathroom and it was only while showering that he noticed something: a white substance.
“It was him, he’s like, ‘You think you can block me?
You know I know where you live.’”But it was what Rowe said next that changed everything.“He was like, ‘Haha I hope you enjoyed my cum in you. When Oliver eventually answered he asked Rowe why he said he had ripped the condom.
It ended any self-soothing thoughts Oliver had entertained until then: that Rowe had been lying, that he saw the condom going on, that it was just lubricant he saw in the shower.
After a six-week trial and a two-year police investigation, Daryll Jack Thomas Rowe, 27, today became the first man in Britain to be found guilty of intentionally infecting others with HIV. He wanted more people to come forward and to send a message to Daryll Rowe. tell him he hasn’t won.”At the time, Oliver’s story could not be published for legal reasons – not until after the trial. It was just three months after Oliver first started chatting to Rowe – a Scottish hairdresser – on Grindr, the gay dating app.
The jury found Rowe guilty of five counts of grievous bodily harm for infecting five men, and also guilty of five further counts of attempted GBH for intending unsuccessfully to infect five more. A year and a half before the trial, one of Rowe’s victims approached Buzz Feed News – the first to speak out. But in the end nine other young men came forward, mostly in the Brighton area, all with overlapping stories: being tricked into unsafe sex with Rowe, being taunted and abused by him. It began with a jovial exchange of messages.“We were having good banter,” said Oliver.
I bet you noticed that.’”Oliver began to challenge him, asking him why he would say such a thing. He didn’t know if the substance he had noticed in the shower was lubricant or semen. “And he said, ‘it’s true, I did, I hope you enjoyed it.’”After Oliver hung up, his phone rang dozens more times that day.
Rowe replied, “because I cummed in you” and added something else: “I ripped the condom, so burn.” Rowe, he said, laughed before hanging up. “I was at home on my own thinking, Oh my god, this guy seems crazy, [if] he comes to my house and comes to fucking kill me... I felt like I had cancer.”His doctor gave him antibiotics, which did nothing.