A woman discovered that her husband knowingly infected her with HIV after keeping his diagnosis a secret for more than five years – and she only found out she was positive after getting pregnant with his twins.
He kept it a secret from her until he was forced to come clean after she became pregnant with their twins and discovered that she was infected in 2007.
He later revealed that he had known he had the disease since 2002, and admitted to cheating on her with other women and men throughout their marriage.
A woman discovered her husband knowingly infected her with HIV after keeping his diagnosis a secret for more than five years – days after she learned she was pregnant with his twins
Shocking: Renee Burgess, 38, revealed during a recent interview that she was with the man for half a decade and had no idea that he was HIV positive
The truth is out: He kept it a secret from her until he was forced to come clean after she became pregnant with their twins and discovered that she was infected in 2007
Renee explained that she found out she had caught the disease on November 21, 2007, during a prenatal appointment – just a few months after they tied the knot.
‘Back then I was living in South Carolina with my new husband, I was a newlywed,’ she recalled.
‘I went [to do the doctor] for being dehydrated, I kept throwing up and not feeling well.’
They ran some tests and discovered she was HIV positive – which came as a major shock to her.
‘[The doctor] basically just looked at me and said, “You tested positive for HIV.” I kind of got into a blank stare, I looked over at the wall because I didn’t want to look her in the face,’ she said, of the moment she found out.
‘I was complete in shock. She asked if I wanted them to bring my husband back in the room, I said, “Sure, bring him in because guess what – if I’m HIV positive, he’s the reason why.”
‘So she brought him back in the room, he looked shocked when she told him but it wasn’t a shocked look like, “Oh she could have given me HIV,” it was more of a look like, “Wow, she found out.”‘
Renee explained that she decided to leave her husband a few months later – on January 1, 2008.
And when she was watching the news a few weeks later and discovered someone else had gone to jail for knowingly infecting their significant other with HIV, she decided to contact the police.
Coming clean: He later revealed that he knew he had the disease since 2002, and admitted to cheating on her with other women and men throughout their marriage
Good riddance! She later divorced the man and pressed charges for knowingly infecting her. He pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison
‘In the beginning of February I was sitting at home and looking on the news. A story came on about a homosexual couple – an older male and a younger male – and the older male had knowingly infected his younger male partner,’ she explained.
‘At that moment I found out that knowingly infecting someone without disclosing your status to them was a felony crime in the state of Florida.
‘I immediately got on the phone and called the sex crimes unit at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office. I spoke with the detective and let him know what was going on.’
The detectives told her that they needed a recorded confession from her ex, so she called him and got him to admit to everything.
‘At this time, he was begging me to come back to South Carolina and stay married to him, so I was like let me use this to my advantage,’ she said.
‘Over the course of a couple days, I kind of played it off like, “Yeah I might come back home. I kind of miss you. Yeah I still love you.” Knowing good and well I absolutely, positively didn’t love him anymore and I wasn’t going back.
‘His Valentine’s Day gift from me was calling him, with the detective on three-way, with the recorder on, while I asked him every question that the detective wanted me to ask.
In a social media post, Renee said she believes the moment she got infected with the disease was on their wedding night – when they had unprotected sex for the first time
‘I trusted him with my life’: Burgess was just 24 years old when she was unknowingly infected
Renee said the stress of what happened caused her to go into premature labor, and she gave birth to the twins four months early
‘I was like, “I have to go see a psychologist and they gave me this questionnaire, I need all these questions answered so they can treat me.” He answered every single question.
‘He answered questions about how and when he was diagnosed, how long he knew – he knew he was positive since 2002.’
During their phone call, Renee made another shocking revelation – her husband revealed he had actually cheated on her with other women and men throughout their marriage.
She said: ‘I found out that he was not only sleeping with other women, but also other men.
‘Once I got that recorded confession they issued a nation wide warrant for his arrest. They went to South Carolina and arrested him. It took months but they extradited him back to Jacksonville.’
In the end, the man pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
As for the twins, Renee said the stress of what happened caused her to go into premature labor, and she gave birth to them four months early.
They are HIV negative, but face challenges from being ‘developmentally delayed.’
They are HIV negative, but face challenges from being ‘developmentally delayed’
Moving on: She is now re-married and had two more kids with her new husband
Speaking out: She dedicates much of her time to motivational speaking and spreading awareness on HIV and AIDS. She even wrote two books about what happened to her
She is now re-married and has had two more kids with her new husband. She dedicates much of her time to motivational speaking and spreading awareness on HIV and AIDS.
HIV during pregnancy: Is it possible to protect babies from being infected?
- There is a medicine expecting mothers can take that will help prevent HIV from spreading to their baby, called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
- If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy and childbirth, and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1 per cent or less
- A cesarean delivery (C-Section) can also help prevent HIV transmission
- After delivery, it is also important to avoid breastfeeding your baby, since breast milk contains HIV
- Source: HIV.gov
She even wrote two books on what happened to her, called Married: But It Can Happen and HIV Around Me.
She concluded: ‘Don’t think that just because you’re in a monogamous relationship or if you’re married that it can’t happen to you.
‘I was in a committed marriage, I wasn’t in a relationship and I wasn’t dating. This guy that I’ve known for five years, is positive, and he didn’t tell anybody and gave it to me.
‘It can happen to anybody. It probably has happened to a lot of people who don’t even want to know if it’s happened. They assume – I’m with this person and I’m married so it’s not going to happen. Just understand that it can happen to you just as easily as it happened to me.’
In a previous interview, the 38-year-old said the first words her husband said to her in the car ride home from the doctor’s office were: ‘Don’t tell anyone.’
She also said that she believes the moment she got infected with the disease was on their wedding night – when they had unprotected sex for the first time.
‘Before this date, we had NEVER had unprotected sex. I was very adamant about it. Your wedding night is the time to consummate the marriage. But in my case, it did not end as I foresaw,’ she wrote on Instagram in 2017 on the 10-year anniversary of their wedding.
‘My wedding night, we did that but he also knowingly exposed me to his HIV. I trusted him with my life and he took my life into his own hands and chose to lie in the most explainable way.’