This happens way too many times. Why anybody would knowingly want to pass the virus on leaves me completely stumped. It is just sooooo wrong.
‘I thought I’d found the love of my life’
- Former shop worker Sarah Watson thought she had found the love of her life when she met Ghanaian-born Henry Assumang in 2007
- But 18 months later the couple split up because of ‘trust issues’
- In 2010 she received a visit from police who asked if she had slept with Mr Assumang as blood tests at a deportation centre had shown he had HIV
- Following day she was given news that she too was HIV-positive
- Mr Assumang denied knowing he had HIV until he died but Ms Watson said he was fully aware that he was carrying the virus when they were together
A woman has spoken of her devastation after discovering she caught HIV from an ex-boyfriend.
Sarah Watson, 38, thought she had found the love of her life when she met Ghanaian-born Henry Assumang in 2007.
But less than two years later their relationship broke down. It would be a further year-and-a-half before she would be given the life-shattering news he was HIV-positive.
Describing him as a ‘gentleman’, Ms Watson said that when she initially met Mr Assumang, she hoped he would help look after her family.
‘He always made me feel special – he was very complimentary to me and my children,’ she said on ITV’s This Morning.
‘He took an interest in my children and he fitted in well with my family. He was always there to give love and support.’
But the romance was short-lived and a year into the relationship the couple started having, as Ms Watson described it, ‘trust-issues’.
The mother-of-two said: ‘He started to go out a lot and would turn his phone off.’
Six months later, the couple split, but they stayed on good terms and he still took an active interest in her children.
It wasn’t until 2010, when police turned up at Ms Watson’s door, that she discovered she had contracted the virus.
If a person is exposed to the virus, anti-HIV medication may stop a person becoming infected so long as it is take within 72 hours.
For it to be effective, the medication, called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, must be started within 72 hours of coming into contact with the virus.
The quicker PEP is started the better – the longer the wait, the less chance of it being effective.
PEP has been misleadingly popularised as a ‘morning-after pill’ for HIV.
PEP is a month-long treatment, which has serious side effects and is not guaranteed to work.
The treatment involves taking the same drugs prescribed to people who have tested positive for HIV.
A person can gain access to PEP from hospitals, A&E departments, sexual health clinics, or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.
GPs usually do not provide PEP.
‘Police turned up at my house and asked me what my sexual history was.
‘I didn’t answer at first and asked why they needed to know.
‘They said they had a man waiting to be deported and needed to clarify his relationship history.’
It quickly became apparent that the man in question was Mr Assumang.
Before foreign nationals are deported they are tested for the virus and his test had come back positive.
The former shop worker was told she needed an urgent test and her results were fast-tracked.
The following day it was confirmed she too was HIV-positive.
‘It completely turned my world upside,’ said Ms Watson. ‘I was in shock and couldnt believe it.
‘When the viral load test came back it also told me I had just six to nine months to live.’
If a person has contracted HIV it is essential treatment be started immediately, or as soon as possible.
If it is caught within 72 hours of transmission, a person can even fight off the virus.
Ms Watson had however lived with the virus for three years without knowing and needed urgent treatment.
Luckily swift intervention after her shock diagnosis has managed to keep her alive.
Despite the ‘news’ that Ms Assumang was carrying the virus, Ms Watson believes that he knew for many years that he was HIV-positive.
‘He was receiving treatment for the condition in 2006, a year before we met,’ she said. ‘He was fully aware [he had HIV].’
Mr Assumang denied this up until he death, earlier this month. He was charged with GBH for passing on the virus but his case didn’t go to trial in time.
Ms Watson is concerned other women may unknowingly have the virus as he went on to have other relationships – and perhaps even one-night stands – after the couple split.
Dr Carole Cooper, who also appeared on the programme said: ‘This story shows that you really can’t tell who has HIV without a test.
‘If you think you might be at risk then you must get a test – fortunately it’s a lot easier to get tested now.
‘And if you don’t want your GP knowing you can go to a sexual health clinic where a test won’t show up on your medical records.
‘It’s essential to get early treatment – you can go to sexual health clinic without you GP knowing.’
‘Despite this only a quarter of those infected with HIV know they have the disease.’
Dr Cooper added that it’s important to realise that HIV isn’t a death sentence in the wasy it was in previous years.
Within the past five years, she said, the ‘outlook has revolutionised’ as there are many new drugs on offer.
‘It is so important to have an early diagnosis and it can be hard to put up with the drugs as there are some hefty side-effects,’ she explained. ‘But they are a patient’s passport to a healthy life.’
Ms Watson remains worried about her future and said: ‘I will find it hard to trust anyone ever again. I live in a very hard situation right now.