She introduced Simon to her children, and was thrilled when they liked him as much as she did.
” I couldn’t have felt more ashamed because I had no one to blame but myself.’Today, if you were to walk past Rachel you would never even think to ask yourself if she was HIV positive.
Well-groomed with an immaculate blonde bob, slim figure and warm smile, she looks like a healthy, attractive middle-aged woman.
Rachel Dilley with her ex-partner Devon and son Desmond, aged 13, in 1998.
She says: 'some people still think you can catch HIV by sharing cups or towels.
A friend had a new baby and when I asked to go round to see him I was told: "No kissing."' With the advances in anti-viral medication, Rachel can expect to live a long and normal life.
But with the stigma that still surrounds HIV, she wants other women who recklessly put romance before their own health to take heed of her story.‘If you have cancer, people feel compassion for you, but with HIV you encounter prejudice and ignorance, she says.
‘Because it is contracted through sexual contact or blood, people assume you either sleep around or are a drug user who sticks shared needles in your arm.‘Women, especially those who find themselves single again in middle age after a long-term relationship, think they are immune.
But they need to know you can contract HIV from one single encounter with one man.
Just short of 40 and with three teenage children, she thought no one would be interested in her dating profile, which made clear that after two decades of monogamy she was looking for serious commitment, rather than a casual, no-strings relationship.
A builder in the same age bracket as her, Simon was charismatic and attractive.
On their first restaurant date, he showered her with compliments.