Love (and War) in the Time of HIV

If you believe your lover infected you with the AIDS virus, what's to stop you from telling the world?

Beyond the potentially significant legal issues at stake in the controversy lies the tragedy of two young men whose very lives are now threatened by AIDS. New Times was unable to contact J.S. for comment, and Anthony Guadioso is constrained by the gag order from discussing his lawsuit. But he is willing to speak about his relationship with J.S.

Guadioso says he began regularly seeing J.S., his first gay lover, soon after they met in November of 1990 at Uncle Charlie's, a popular gay bar on Bird Road. Twenty-three years old at the time, Guadioso had recently moved to Miami to be near several relatives after graduating with a psychology degree from Toronto's York University and breaking up with his girlfriend there.

He had known he was gay while growing up on Long Island, New York, but had always pretended to be straight. Now, finally, Guadioso was liberated and involved in the sort of relationship he had always wanted. Or at least so he thought.

Guadioso's parents, especially his mother, had reacted to their son's announcement of his sexual orientation with repeated warnings about the risk of AIDS. Guadioso says J.S. provided assurances that he had tested negative for HIV (the virus suspected of causing AIDS), but still he insisted on practicing safe sex during their first six months together. However, as Guadioso became more and more concerned about his lover's past, he decided that a condom was a poor substitute for candor. "I kept asking to see the test results," Guadioso says, "but he kept refusing. He told me that if I loved him, I had to learn to trust him."

Guadioso trusted enough not to press the issue as he and J.S. drew closer and eventually bought a Kendall condominium together. He says he convinced himself there was nothing to be worried about after all: In addition to J.S.'s assurances, Guadioso had the negative results of his own HIV test, taken in April 1991.

In fact, after moving to the condo, Guadioso found himself so at ease that one night, when there was no condom to be found, he and J.S. simply did without one. Unprotected sex was suddenly no longer forbidden. For Guadioso it was the ultimate act of trust in his companion.

That trust was shattered a year later, when Guadioso took another HIV test. Though he insists J.S. had been his only sex partner, the test results came back positive. Guadioso says he then demanded to know the results of a more recent HIV test J.S. had been required to take in connection with his job. The results were devastating: J.S. had tested HIV-positive.

In subsequently seeking publicity from Channel 6, Guadioso says he was not motivated by a desire to smear J.S. but rather by an interest in drawing attention to a different facet of the legal turmoil that erupted after his grim discovery: the difficulty of pressing criminal charges against J.S.

Under Florida law, a person can be charged with homicide if he knows he is infected with HIV, understands that it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, and then infects an unsuspecting victim. Court documents filed by Guadioso's attorney claim that J.S. "either knew or should have known he, in fact, was infected and contagious with HIV." Guadioso nevertheless admits it won't be easy to prove that J.S. was lying when he said he had tested negative, or that he knew he was HIV-positive. Yet he still believes J.S. acted criminally. "I don't think people should walk around with a label saying they're HIV-positive, but I don't think think they should be able to deceive people, either," Guadioso says. "It goes beyond [J.S.] doing this to me. There are a lot of other people who should be stopped. I want legislation to come out of this case."

According to the Dade State Attorney's Office, criminal charges have not been ruled out. Prosecutor Anne Marie Ferrar acknowledges that an investigation is under way, but will not comment about it.

Guadioso, meanwhile, hopes the gag order will be lifted soon so he can try once again to generate public interest in his case. "My whole personality has changed as a result of all of this," he says. "I used to be so bubbly and fun, but now all I do is worry about what I can and can't say.

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