Earlier this month, SB 239, which is a bill that reduces the penalty for knowingly exposing people to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from a felony to a misdemeanor, was signed into law by California’s Governor Jerry Brown (D). According to supports of the bill, like its sponsor, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-CA), doing so will destigmatize the dangerous sexually transmitted disease (STD), which will supposedly help stop it from continuing to spread.
While this may seem like a good idea in theory, in reality, it puts countless lives in potential danger. This is because it’s now easier for people to get away with intentionally trying to cause harm to others by knowingly infecting them with the STD, which sadly, is not entirely uncommon.
For example, just recently, Daryll Rowe, a 26-year-old hairdresser from Edinburgh, Scotland was arrested and charged with “intentionally infecting” four men, and “attempting to infect” a further six, with HIV in what officers called a “cynical campaign” to give the disease to as many people as possible.
According to reports, Rowe would find other guys on Grindr, a gay dating app, lie to them about being HIV-free, and then meet up with them to have unprotected sex in hopes of giving them the disease. If the person he was meeting up with insisted that he wear a condom anyway, he would allegedly cut the tip off of the condom before proceeding.
After infecting his victim’s, Rowe would then engage in mockery and celebrate infecting them. For instance, after hearing that one of the men he had slept with was sick with the fever, he sent him a message saying, “maybe you have the fever cos I came inside you and I have HIV, lol. Whoops!” In another case, he reportedly laughed at another one of his victim’s over the phone while making fun of him about his potential diagnosis.
In court, prosecutors spoke at length about his horrific behavior. “With full knowledge, putting others at risk, he embarked on what was a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with the HIV virus,” argued Caroline Carberry, one of the prosecutors involved in the case, noting, “unfortunately for some of the men he met, his campaign was successful.”
To clarify, she stated, “he had numerous, casual sexual relationships with men he met via Grindr…He deceived each of those men into believing he was HIV-negative…He reassured the men he was clean and when they insisted on a condom, he deliberately sabotaged the condom.”
When confronted by the victims, Carberry mentioned that Rowe responded by sending cruel text messages. “Many of [the victims] were sent abusive and mocking messages,” explained Carberry.
At least one of Rowe’s victims were also present to testify against him. “First of all, I had really swollen glands in my neck like golf balls. Shivery. Hot and cold at night. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t walk. I was just really ill. I thought maybe I caught [a] glandular fever from him.” recalled an unidentified victim during Rowe’s trial. Upon learning that it was not a fever, but actually HIV, he was understandably outraged. “I couldn’t believe it really. He’s obviously f***ed up in the head,” he told the court.
Although the trial against Rowe is still ongoing, it’s likely that he’ll be found guilty. Hopefully, once convicted, he’s punished as harshly as possible for intentionally infecting others with a dangerous disease to deter others from doing something similar.
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