British talk show legend Trisha Goddard feared that she had passed on HIV to her newborn daughter after her ex-husband died from complications of AIDS.
In an interview with The Sun, Goddard opened up about the death of her first husband, Australian politician Robert Nestdale, in 1989, four years after they divorced.
Nestdale, who was leader of the youth wing of the Liberal Party, told Goddard that he was battling lymphoma. But from conversations had during and shortly after his funeral, she came to learn that Nestdale died of AIDS-related illnesses.
“Everyone else, including the doctor who diagnosed him with AIDS, had insisted on him telling me, but he wouldn’t,” she learned.
“I asked one of his associates if Robert had HIV when he was with me, and he immediately booked me in for a test.”
This realisation fuelled fears that she might have been unknowingly living with the virus and may have passed it onto her then-baby daughter, Billie, who she had with TV producer Mark Grieve.
Goddard said she has been “haunted” since by the “heartbreaking” images of babies living with HIV lying in their cots.
“I don’t know how I got through it,” the 63-year-old recalled. “I was Robert’s wife and yet I didn’t know he had AIDS.”
She quickly sought an HIV test – she was breastfeeding Billie at the time – and the agonising wait began.
“Billie had only just been born and I remember they took blood from me and I was horrified,” the Dancing on Ice star explained.
“I remember going for this test and being horrified they might have to take blood from my tiny baby.
“But then the doctor said that wasn’t necessary because, if I had it and was breastfeeding, she would already have it.
“I’ll never forget this awful feeling, that I might have been passing on the disease through my milk. It was your worst nightmare.
“When I found out I had tested negative, I broke down and wept.”
Sexual health experts have stressed that the chances of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be vastly reduced with the right anti-HIV drugs among other treatments and methods.
In doing so, according to one of Britain’s top HIV charities, Terrence Higgins Trust, “the chances of the baby having HIV become very low – under one per cent”.