A hairdresser from Edinburgh embarked on a ‘cynical campaign’ to infect as many men as he could with HIV, a court heard.
Daryll Rowe, 26, is accused of insisting on unprotected sex with his partners, claiming to be free of the virus, or of tampering with the condom when they insisted he used them.
He later sent them mocking text messages telling them he was HIV positive and that they could be at risk, Lewes Crown Court heard.
One received a text saying: “Maybe you have the fever...I have HIV LOL. Oops!”
Rowe, who is originally from Edinburgh, is charged with infecting four men with the virus, Lewes Crown Court heard, and of attempting to infect a further six between October 2015 and December 2016.
He was living and working in the Brighton area at the time of the alleged offences.
Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC described his alleged crimes as “a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV”.
She added: “Unfortunately for many of the men he met, his campaign was successful.”
Rowe had been diagnosed with HIV while he was still living in Edinburgh in April 2015 after a sexual health clinic contacted him to tell him a former partner was infected.
Doctors found he was “coping well” with his diagnosis, said Ms Carberry, but were concerned when he refused vaccination for common illnesses HIV positive patients are susceptible to, such as pneumonia.
They were also worried when he refused antiretroviral drugs to slow the development of the virus and make those infected with HIV less contagious, jurors heard.
Ms Carberry said: “He was warned he could be prosecuted for passing (HIV) on or even putting someone at risk of contracting HIV from him.”
She continued: “He told his doctors he was not going to engage in any unprotected sex again, but failed to attend further appointments in Edinburgh and by this time he had moved to Brighton.
“He had no obvious family or other connections in the area although he had been in communication online on a dating app Grindr with a number of men.
“Through Grindr, the prosecution say, he was in contact with men that he would later go on to infect or attempt to affect with HIV.”
The court heard that one of the complainants last tested negative for HIV on the morning he met Rowe in October 2015 and did not have sex again before he was diagnosed with HIV two months later.
When another insisted he use a condom, Rowe later allegedly told him in an abusive phone call: “I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid. You didn’t even know.”
Another 25-year-old man had only had only had one sexual partner before Rowe, and considered him to be his boyfriend.
Judge Christine Hensen has granted all victims the right to lifelong anonymity and the option to give evidence from behind a screen so they won’t have to face Rowe in court.
After two complainants came forward, Sussex police launched Operation Brickhill and a community-wide public health warning in the Brighton area to look for further possible victims.
Rowe appeared in the dock in a dark blue suit and tie.
The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, continues.