I just got done watching this week's episode of 20/20 and it sent a chill down my spine.
The episode was about Philippe Padieu who apparently knowingly infected numerous women with the HIV virus. According to the report, Padieu had an HIV test and knew he was infected with the virus. He then proceeded to date multiple women and have unprotected sex with them without being honest about his HIV status. Adding to the story, he claimed to be exclusive with the women he dated, but in reality he had multiple partners simultaneously. The guy was allegedly very persuasive, confident, and had a good deal of charisma. He was dating women in my age bracket. He was doing this in Texas. Thankfully not in Austin (probably).
This is what sent the chill down my spine.
To start, I have several single (or divorced, but we'll just say "single" here too for brevity) women friends who are close to my age. One has been in several relationships with people who, like Padieu, claimed to have been tested for HIV and was HIV-negative. Were they? Who knows?
Who can we trust?
The problem with trying to find a long-term relationship in your 40s is that the pool of available people is small to begin with. Then the people who are available typically have issues. Big issues. Issues that kind of explain why they're single in their 40s. The people without serious issues are wonderful people but are not necessarily compatible. Couple that with the fact that many of us at this point in our lives are less social and spend more time pursuing their career. While I wouldn't say that makes us "desperate" to find someone, it does mean that to find a partner means navigating through all of this, making ourselves emotionally (and physically) vulnerable.
Especially with computer-based introduction services, we don't know much about the people we're meeting to "date." We depend on what the other person chooses to disclose about themselves to know who we're getting involved with. How do we know if that person is being honest? Padieu dated some of these women for over 2 years. There are an equal number of dangerous women as there are of dangerous men, so both sexes have an equal chance of becoming serious with a dud like Padieu.
In the end, the women who Padieu infected got together and helped the police put together a case against Padieu. In Texas, the law doesn't demand that you disclose your HIV status before having sex. So they pursued a charge of assault with a deadly weapon - the deadly weapon being Padieu's "member." The defense contended that the women were equally responsible for becoming infected because they didn't insist that Padieu use a condom while having sex, and the sex was consensual. The difference here, and why Padieu lost, is that they proved that Padieu was aware he had HIV and that he was aware of the dangers, and misrepresented his status to the women, so their consent was based on Padieu's misinformation. Unfortunately, there are several women who's lives have been changed permanently by the dangerous, selfish, and outright deadly act of a terrible person.
Be careful out there...