Randy McIlwain, NBCDFW.com
Diane Reeve is one of at least six women infected with HIV by Philippe Padieu, but she's turning tragedy into advocacy in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
A woman who was infected with HIV by a man who was later convicted of assault for it is working to prevent the spread of the virus.
Martial arts master Diane Reeve has taught self-defense for 25 years and is now hoping to educate people about the importance of HIV testing.
"I teach courage for a living and, yeah, it took some courage to come forward, but I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't have the courage to come forward myself," she said.
She said Padieu blinded her with his charisma, French vocabulary and love of martial arts for nearly five years.
"I was lied to," Reeve said. "I may have missed some red flags on the sociopath scale because love is blind."
Knowing that Padieu will likely spend the rest of his life in prison got her thinking about how she would like to spend hers.
"I'm trying to make a difference of what time I have left," she said.
By the time Reeve learned she had been infected with HIV, she already had AIDS. She manages the disease with a cocktail of medications, but every day presents new challenges.
"It's difficult sometimes," she said. "Sometimes it's just depressing, you know. For the first couple of years, every time I got a hangnail, I thought I was going to die."
Reeve says it could have helped if she had known about the infection sooner, which is why she is advocating for people to get tested annually.
"If you think you're in a monogamous relationship like I thought I was in a monogamous relationship for four and a half years, it's still important to get tested every year, just because, unless you're with that person 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you don't know. You just don't know," she said.
Reeve suggests people make the test a part of their annual exam or physical and request it when their doctor takes a blood sample.
She said that she once guarded her anonymity after she learned she had HIV and AIDS but thought it was important to come forward.
"I think they'd be shocked to know how many people are living with it, and I think they would be shocked to know how many people are living with it and don't know they're living with it, and that's the danger," she said.