Woman didn't know accused was HIV-positive
TORONTO - The throaty laugh of a woman who died of AIDS-related cancer filled a courtroom Friday when audiotape evidence was played at the first-degree murder trial of the man accused of fatally infecting her.
In her statement to police, the Toronto woman insisted she did not know her former lover was HIV positive and was adamant she would not have had sex with him had she known.
"Absolutely not," she told police.
Johnson Aziga, 52, of Hamilton, is on trial for first-degree murder in the deaths of the woman and another of his ex-lovers.
Even though he had known since late 1996 that he carried the virus that leads to AIDS, police allege he did not tell the women -- or several others with whom he had unprotected sex -- about his status.
In her statement, the woman described beginning a sexual relationship with Aziga, whom she met at her job with the government of Ontario, where they both worked, in the fall of 2001.
"He seemed a very nice, considerate person. And then we had sex," she told the officer in a clear, confident voice, punctuated at times with throaty laughter.
"There was no discussion whatsoever about HIV at all, and it was unprotected sex. I didn't really think of it."
Court previously heard that Aziga had several counselling sessions in the 1990s with public health officials about HIV, the risks of unprotected sex, and treatment options.
He was also twice formally ordered to inform any partners about his status.
The woman had tested negative for HIV twice before in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and had only one other partner besides Aziga since then who was also negative.
About a month after her relationship with Aziga began, she fell ill. She had never felt so sick before, she said.
Court has previously heard that the acute phase of HIV infection can make someone seriously ill, but the symptoms usually disappear within a few weeks.
The two continued seeing each other until June 2002, when the relationship soured -- ostensibly because he was having a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife.
"He said he actually was not very fond of women right at that point in time."
She and Aziga did have one last, "unpleasant" sexual encounter in October 2002 that left her bleeding, court heard.
Ironically, she tried to reassure him that she posed no health risk.
"I'm bleeding but I'm OK," the woman said she told him. "I've been tested."
The woman was soon diagnosed as HIV positive.
Over a beer a few months later, she told Aziga about her status. He did not seem particularly surprised, she said.
"He just sort of went, `Oh man.' He didn't say, `Oh my God, like when?' or `I have to get tested,"' she said.
It was only in May 2003, after calls from public health officials, that she concluded Johnson infected her, she said.
She then called to ask him directly whether he was HIV positive, at which point he admitted he was, court heard.
The rest of the call comprised a discussion about HIV infection, and her offering him advice on support groups, and advising him on medications to control the illness.
"I said, `I know personally people who have been HIV positive for like 17 years," she said.
"He said, `Oh really? Wow."'
"It's not the same as the '80s," the woman is heard explaining to the detective who made the recording in August 2003.
"You're not going to be dead in three years."
She died in April 2004, two days after she gave a sworn videotaped statement to police in which she could only nod that her previous statement was true.