A British man has been sentenced to life in prison for intentionally transmitting HIV to men he met on hookup app Grindr.
Daryll Rowe reportedly told his partners he was HIV-negative and insisted on having unprotected sex, and if they refused, he would poke a hole in the condom before using it.
The 27-year-old hairdresser would then send the men text messages revealing he was HIV-positive, mocking them about being at risk for the virus.
One told the court he received a text from Rowe reading, “I came inside you and I have HIV. LOL. Oops!”
Another said Rowe had told them in a phone call, “I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid, you didn’t even know.”
Police have been able to track down ten victims, and in November, a jury convicted him of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and an additional five counts of attempted grievous bodily harm.
Rowe is the first man in the UK to be found guilty of intentionally spreading HIV, the BBC reported.
During the trial, doctors reported being concerned when Rowe refused antiretroviral drugs in the past, which would have prevented him from passing on the virus on to others.
Sussex Police Detective Andy Wolstenholme said the sentence was “hugely important for Rowe’s victims, and the communities that he deliberately targeted.”
“Daryll Rowe was consistent in lying to his victims about having HIV, he was persistent and aggressive in wanting unprotected sex in order to infect people, and when he didn’t get what he wanted, he deliberately damaged condoms to achieve his aim,” he said.
In court, Judge Christine Henson said the sentence “is not about stigmatising anyone living with HIV” but told Rowe, “The messages you sent make it crystal clear you knew exactly what you were doing.
“I cannot see how and when you will no longer be a danger to gay men.”
Deborah Gold, chief executive of UK charity the National AIDS Trust, said the Rowe case was the first of its kind in the UK, and “an exceptionally rare thing to encounter.”
“People living with HIV should not be avoided, feared or discriminated against, even when it comes to sex and dating,” she said.
“Well over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK, and the vast majority of them cannot pass on the virus to others due to effective medication – this is something most people don’t realise, unfortunately.
“To intentionally transmit HIV is a deplorable crime one could only commit by avoiding one’s own crucial treatment. Our thoughts are with the victims in this case.”