A man who allegedly knowingly infected his partner with HIV promised he was "fine", a court has been told.
Mikio Filitonga, 37, appeared at the Auckland District Court today defending a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and one of committing a criminal nuisance by doing an unlawful act.
The Crown alleges Filitonga, knowing himself to be positive after a test in May 2013 and "fully aware of his obligation to disclose his health status to his sexual partner", had unprotected sex with his live-in boyfriend.
This caused his partner, who has name suppression, to contract HIV.
The man told the jury he first met Filitonga one morning in a park in early 2014 when he was looking for his dog.
They got along and he invited Filitonga back to his home.
There he asked Filitonga what his status was.
Filitonga told him was "fine" and that he'd been tested three months earlier, the man told the court.
"I was pleased and I thought he was pretty cool and we got on really well."
The man said knew he was negative himself because he'd been regularly tested as he was planning on having a baby.
"I had a burning desire to be a father."
Once the coupled established they were both "safe" during that first meeting, the man performed unprotected oral sex on Filitonga and a few weeks later they had intercourse.
A relationship blossomed.
At one point during his evidence, the man was overwhelmed with emotion and had to leave the courtroom for a break.
After two months of dating and during a holiday to the Philippines with friends, the man grew ill with nausea, aches, a fever and a rash which spread over his body.
He said he figured it was probably a tropical virus and busied himself with planning his mother's 90th birthday. He later learned these were symptoms of seroconversion, when a person first develops antibodies for HIV.
But while he was sick he stopped donating sperm to the woman he'd chosen to be his co-parent "just in case".
"I would never forgive myself if [something happened]. Just to be safe for her sake," he said.
The couple quickly grew close and Filitonga moved in but by August the relationship had broken down amid suspicions the defendant was unfaithful.
The man said he got in touch with one of Filitonga's ex-boyfriends and subsequently texted the accused on October 21, 2014, asking what his sickness "really is".
"So please tell me now for real, have you got HIV or something? You have to tell me if you do. Something's not been said, I know it. Is that why you avoid having sex?"
He sent other similar texts but they all went unanswered although they continued to see each other.
That December, he was tested again for HIV and learned he was positive.
But defence lawyer Ross Burns said the Crown had to prove the man didn't have sex with anyone other than the three men who will be called as witnesses between the time the complainant tested negative in August 2013 and when he tested positive in December 2014.
The other partners have all tested negative for HIV.
"If there is a reasonable possibility that the complainant had sex over that 16-month period with any other person, then you cannot find the defendant guilty," Burns told the jury.
During cross-examination, the lawyer asked whether the man knew the park in Western Springs where he first met Filitonga was a "quite a well-known gay cruising spot".
He asked whether the man had in fact gone looking for a partner.
"That's not the case. I don't like that place and I don't do that," he responded.
The man admitted he'd had brief relations with previous partners who have since tested negative for HIV.
The trial continues and is set down for two weeks.
The law and HIV
• If you are HIV positive, you do not have to disclose your status before having intercourse as long as you are using a condom.
• If the sex is unprotected, the HIV-positive person has a legal duty to disclose his/her status.