Gennaro Capobianco knew he was HIV positive during his long term relationship with Wayne Campanelli, but didn’t reveal his medical condition, according to a lawsuit. Now, 11 years after they broke up and less than a year after his death, Campanelli seeks money damages from Capobianco’s estate, claiming he contracted AIDS from his ex, which constitutes battery, the complaint said. Is Campanelli a deserving victim, or is he trying to duck personal responsibility for his own body?
The two men maintained a homosexual relationship from 1979 until 1994, according to Campanelli’s lawsuit, and even though by 1986 Capobianco knew he was HIV positive, he didn’t inform his boyfriend as they continued to have unprotected sex. Campanelli only found out about his ex’s medical condition after Capobianco died last year. The plaintiff believes that’s how he contracted the disease, and seeks damages to cover hospital bills and emotional distress.Key to the battery allegation is consent, said Campanelli’s attorney, East Hartford-based Henry Kroeger III.“You may agree to sex but you don’t agree to have your body invaded by AIDS,” Kroeger said.An attorney for Capobianco’s estate was not available for comment. Though the nature of Campanelli’s lawsuit is rare, it isn’t entirely unheard-of, Kroeger said. A Connecticut judge issued a prejudgment remedy to the plaintiff in a similar 1991 case, ruling he was likely to prevail. “As long as I can prove what I allege, I think its a pretty clear cut case,” Kroeger said.But advocates for people with AIDS are wary of these kinds of lawsuits, saying it criminalizes all people with AIDS for spreading the disease, said John Merz, executive director of the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition.While Merz acknowledges that an HIV positive individual has a duty to inform their partners, the coalition’s point of view still stresses personal responsibility and avoiding unprotected sex.“At the end of the day you’re responsible for what you do with your body,” Merz said.In addition, 99 percent of people with HIV are conscientious and would never intentionally transmit the disease, while the number of cases like Campanelli’s are miniscule. “We don’t want to put it in the public’s mind that people with AIDS are trying to infect other people,” Merz said.