Health Stories

I jailed my cheating man

Diane was shocked her partner was unfaithful, but a call from a clinic left her reeling
Diane Reeve author of Standing Strong
Diane Reeve, author of Standing Strong, today
Credit: Alyssa Vincent Photography

Diane Reeve, 68, was heartbroken when she found out her partner was seeing other women, the she was told she had HIV. Here she tells her story in her own words.

Sitting in the car on my partner’s driveway, I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I was still staring at my phone in disbelief as the tears ran down my cheeks.

Together for four years, Philippe and I had just bought a house together and were due to move in. We loved each other.

Or so I’d thought until moments before…

Suspicious about where he was one evening, I’d listened to Philippe’s voicemails and heard two women arranging dates with him.

How could he? I thought, sobbing and mentally running through our relationship, trying to figure out where it had gone wrong.

But there was nothing obvious, and the longer I sat in the car waiting for him, the madder I got.

When he eventually pulled up, I was ready to say my piece.

Seeing my face, he must’ve guessed that I knew because he just took off. You’re not getting away with this, I thought, chasing him down the street in my car.

It ended in an ugly screaming match on the side of the highway, but he gave no apology or explanation.

Back home, as I boxed up his stuff, I felt like I’d been dating a stranger.

Days later, and still in pieces, I was coincidentally booked in for my well woman check at the doctors and there I faced more bad news. My pap test showed some pre-cancerous cells caused by a sexually transmitted disease.

‘I know where that’s come from,’ I told my daughter Megan, then 23, angrily. ‘And if I don’t stop him, he’ll be spreading it round to all the women he’s sleeping with.’

First, I rang the two women from his voicemail. Then, because I’d paid for his mobile, I was able to get the phone records and called all the numbers I didn’t recognise.

‘Have you been seeing Philippe?’ I asked. The answer ‘yes’ made my heart drop each time. In total, there were nine women. What a rat! I thought. How could I not have known?

Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu
Philippe Padieu and Diane Reeve before she discovered he was cheating (Credit: Supplied)

Meeting up with a few of the women to exchange stories, I felt that at least I’d saved some heartache.

But then six months later, in January 2007, I found out that one of the women, Susan*, 51, had HIV.

I’d been suffering from exhaustion and constant colds so the signs were all there, but when my test came back positive, I dropped the phone and fell to my knees.

Further testing showed I had AIDS.

‘How could he have done this to me?’ I sobbed to my mum Imogene, certain Philippe knew he had HIV when he slept with me.

There were no answers and, as Susan and I tried to process it, the one thing that struck us was that he needed to be stopped. We had to go to the police before more women were hurt.

‘The prosecutor won’t accept this if there are only two of you,’ we were told.

Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu
Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu were together for four years (Credit: Supplied)

So we rang around all the women again, and also targeted Philippe’s new love interests with stickers on their cars or notes through their doors.

Shockingly, 13 of the 23 women we contacted tested positive and five agreed to testify. But we also had to prove Philippe knew he had HIV when he’d slept with us.

Turning detective again, I remembered some tests he’d had done in 2005.

He’d been called in to hear the results. ‘He sauntered out and told me he was fine,’ I said to Susan, but I guessed it was when he was diagnosed.

Finding receipts from the appointments, it was enough to subpoena his medical records, and sure enough he was diagnosed in 2005, when he and I were together.

And afterwards, knowing his condition, he’d slept with other women too.

 

Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu
Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu – Philippe had been seeing nine women (Credit: Supplied)

In May 2009, Philippe Padieu, 53, was found guilty of six counts of assault with a deadly weapon – his bodily fluid – and sentenced to 45 years in prison.

‘How will I ever trust anyone again?’ I asked my daughters. It was hard but, as my medication started working, I felt better and started to heal.

Many of the women testified anonymously, such is the stigma around HIV, but speaking out really helped me. I also wrote a book, Standing Strong, and was even invited on Oprah’s show, which was amazing.

When I met my now partner, I explained my diagnosis on our second date. ‘It’s okay, my brother died of AIDS,’ he said as I cried.

It was such a relief to know he understood and wasn’t afraid.

It’s been 10 years since Philippe was jailed and my meds mean I have an undetectable viral load. Because the virus hasn’t been detectable in my blood for over six months there’s a zero-transmission risk which is a huge weight off me.

Now, I’m just taking each day as it comes and enjoying life again, safe in the knowledge that the women who put Philippe behind bars really did save lives.

Diane Reeve author of Standing Strong
Diane Reeve, author of Standing Strong, today (Credit: Alyssa Vincent Photography)

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