My husband gave me AIDS but i forgive him
A woman has revealed how she FORGAVE her husband for infecting her with HIV, contracted after he visited gay saunas throughout their marriage.
Barbera Aimes thought the “pesky cold” she came down with in winter 2011 would blow over. But as the New Year dawned the now-59-year-old, of Boulder, Colorado, USA, felt worse and worse, eventually nearly dying.
She subsequently learned her husband John Aimes, 55, had been visiting gay saunas throughout their marriage – and had contracted the illness from an unknown man.
“It’s not uncommon for straight men to go to a gay bathhouse. He loved the attention. He was not getting anything from me,” she admitted.
She said they did have sex in this period, but it was “perfunctory” and “as a good looking man” he wanted approval from elsewhere.
“I want people to look at their own relationships and see how they are reacting to problems unconsciously,” she continued.
He said he would go to the bath-house and come back and feel icky and awful. Like an alcoholic. You go to get your happy on but afterwards you get an awful hangover.”
During a brutal encounter, which Barbera calls “truthgate”, John confessed that he had been seeing other men – and his first illicit encounter was just six months after they wed.
But, remarkably, the couple are still together – and happier than ever.
Now, Barbera sees the entire situation as a “gift”, and admitted she was partly responsible for what happened.
She said: “I don’t take responsibility for what he did, but I do take responsibly for my part in the dysfunction of the relationship.”
She explained: “It was right around Thanksgiving I got this cold, I kept feeling more and more tired and bedraggled. I finally went to the doctor. She took me to the hospital because she said my white blood cell count was off the charts, I don’t know if it was low or high.”
At Boulder Community Hospital medics ran tests but “couldn’t come up with anything” so she was discharged. But her condition worsened. “I was so tired,” she explained. “I went to bed. The next thing I know I was throwing up everywhere.”
Most infected people experience a short illness, similar to flu, two to six weeks after coming into contact with HIV.
These symptoms, which 80 per cent of infected people experience, are a sign that their body is trying to fight HIV.
- Sore throat
- Body rash
- Joint and/or muscle pain
- Swollen glands
At the same hospital where she had been initially treated doctors realised her adrenal glands, which produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol, had failed.
Further tests were run and it emerged she was suffering from Aids.
It meant she had contracted HIV at some point, which had subsequently developed into Aids, the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.
While Aids can’t be transmitted from one person to another, the HIV virus can.
Shocked but surprisingly calm, Barbera, who married John in 1994, exactly two years after they met at Fourth of July celebrations in Boulder Creek, thought she “had bought Aids into the marriage.”
“Long before I married John, in the 1980s, I was experimenting with drugs,” she said. “I was a punk rock crazy person. I thought it was me. The doctors were saying, ‘it doesn’t last that long in your system.’ But I still thought it.”
Her husband was tested and he too was suffering from the illness.
But, sadly, despite them both suffering – for which they were treated with medication – they did not become closer.
Barbera, released from hospital after a number of months, started working for John’s car business and they drifted apart.
“We were heading for divorce,” she said. “It was getting worse and worse and worse and worse.
Until, in January 2013, when she wrote in a letter her true feelings. “I told him I didn’t feel connected to him,” she said. And he responded – and confessed what he had been doing.
“I’ve been outsourcing as well – that is how he said it,” she said. “But, he had outsourcing sex. Apparently men feel connected during the physical act of sex, and women feel connected during intimacy. At first he didn’t say it was through the gay community. I automatically assumed it was through women. My imagination was going wild. Were they prostitutes? Did he have a girlfriend? Did he have multiple girlfriends?
“But the next day he told me the sex he was having was with men, not women. The Aids wasn’t spoken it was assumed.”
But, beneath the anger, she got a taste of the old John – the man she had married.
She continued: “He was raw. He was really him, there was no defences, no blaming, no guilt. He was just him. He was beyond sorry. Can you imagine the courage it took for him to tell me that? We were on the way to divorce.
Most men would have just divorced. We were about to get divorced before truthgate erupted. We were lawyering up.
“For the first time I saw this guy, he was the guy I married. He was so contrite He was like a guy waking up form a horrible nightmare.”
Heading to Mexico for a number of weeks, upon her return Barbera decided to stay with John.
After intensive therapy, they are happy – with Barbera telling her story with John’s permission.
“My purpose in going public with this story is to help people move their circumstances, and see it as a gift,” she said.
“We all have these circumstances. I see it as a gift. I’ve even coined a turn for it. I call it a supernova moment. When we shift the way we look at things, we really come into our own power.”
John added: “By offering me forgiveness, Barbera gave me space to grow into the man I am today.
“This was not about me coming out. I don’t consider myself a gay man.
“I had to tell people close to me, the truth to forgive myself.
“I did something that very nearly brought my wife to death.
“This is a story about forgiveness.”
Barbera spoke as part of an NGO – spreading awareness of HIV and Aids.
Protect yourself from HIV and Aids by knowing the SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of the illness.