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The past week has been intense.  I was very anxious about the media response to Nadja Benaissa’s case.  Overall it has been good.  Journalists seemed to be much nicer to Nadja then they had to Sarah Porter who had been called by the Daily Mail ‘Pure Evil’ and The Sun ‘AIDS Avenger’. This time The Sun had a not great, but more neutral,  headline: ‘Pop Star Sorry for HIV Deceit’

I took the plunge, and I was interviewed by Jerome Taylor from The Independent , with my colleague Angelina Namiba.  I was glad it resulted in a very good article, where our views were not distorted: ‘HIV Is No Longer An Epidemic, But Stigma Is’.

Women’s Hour on Radio 4 contacted me as well to be interviewed on Nadja Benaissa’s trial. I was very excited about it because the programme is followed by over 5,000,000 listeners.  But in the end they didn’t choose me. They had a German journalist, a legal expert, and a policy person from Terence Higgins’ Trust. It was an intelligent and well-informed discussion. However I think it would have been much more powerful to have somebody living with HIV on the program.

Other good articles were written by:

What really got me however was the awful comments by the general public on the internet versions of the articles.

It just hit  me how many people in the world still view us with pure hate.  As if this could have never happened to them or their loved ones. As if they had never had unprotected sex. As if they  always discussed their sexual history and STD with potential partners. As if they had never lied, or hidden something they felt ashamed of, and hurt other people in shameful and dangerous way.

I fear those bigots and I open my inbox with anxiety,  fearing there could be a hateful email or comment.

Still I have no news on Nadja. I thought we would have had a verdict by the end of last week, but nothing has appeared on the papers. If my week was intense… how was hers?!?

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5 thoughts on “Nadja Benaissa in the UK Media

  1. I have been following comments on Twitter about Nadja Benaissa’s trial as Twitter I feel is a good barometer of the attitudes – and prejudices – of average people around the world .
    I too have been shocked and saddened by

    ‘how many people in the world still view us with pure hate. As if this could have never happened to them or their loved ones. As if they had never had unprotected sex. As if they always discussed their sexual history and STD with potential partners. As if they had never lied, or hidden something they felt ashamed of, and hurt other people in shameful and dangerous way.’

    And I get emails like this and twittered back in this vein as I am open about being HIV+ online.
    Very disappointing and sad I feel
    Veritee XX

  2. Things will always change slowly especially here in Britain but the article was great! Thanks again to you & Angela for sharing your stories with such a wide audience.

    As for the negative comments well most people view any illness they cannot see with deep fear! Thanks to the HIV epidemic being originally labelled as a dirty, gay or drug riddled disease many thoughts have not moved on from this view, inspite of all the breakthroughs and media coverage of improvements. People still think that if they don’t see, think or hear about it then it has either gone away or just will not affect them.

    There are still many minds that need to broadened or at least be opened up so please do not be disheartened by such small, narrow minded comments and plow on through the great minefield because you ARE making a DIFFERENCE!!!

  3. Daer Allison and Veritee,

    Thank you so much for your support. It really means a lot to me.

    Veritee I am so sad to hear that you receive abuse through tweet and your blog. It takes courage to be open about your status, and there is a price to pay. However I believe it is crucial that there are women like you who dare to do it. It is going to be the only way we can change people hearts and mind. As I said in my two minutes of fame in Vienna: stigma will end when we are visible.

    So Veritee thanks for your work and for taking this risk. It must be especially difficult in a rural area where you do not have a lot of support from other people with HIV.

    Big Hug SilviaX

  4. Thank you Silvia, as always, for being so publicly eloquent, I wish there were far more visible HIV women after all the years this virus has been known about. I, too, have always been open about my status both privately and publicly and if there have been people who view me with fear and hate I have been spared their company or public, vitriolic rantings, for which I am very grateful. 24 years now and counting! I urge all women to be as public as possible, until we all are the myths surrounding our medical condition (NOT a moral one) will persist and criminal cases will still be brought against us. I, for one, do not believe she infected this man (3 unprotected sexual acts) but that he, like so many heterosexual men, find it easier to accuse women than admit to past drug use and/or risky (eg anal) previous sexual acts. We shall see …Poor girl, my heart goes out to her! ALL individuals should be responsible for their OWN health protection!
    Keep blogging! Love & respect xx

  5. Thank you Caroline,

    You were one of my inspiration in those days when I still didn’t dare to tell most people.

    I remember seeing you and your husband in the paper and feeling so grateful…. I would have never thought that one day it would have been me!

    This is what peer support does. I feel being open is hugely liberating and I am sure that slowly more women will come forward and join us.

    S xxx

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