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:
- Zoe Williams on The Guardian with the controversial title ‘If Sex With HIV Is A Crime So Is Swimming With Verrucas’.
- Joan Smith: ‘The Woman In The Dock Can Be Victim Too’ in The Independent on Sunday.
- Anne Johnstone: HIV Women Deserve Sympathy, Not Prison, on the Herald Scotland.
- Gisela Fiedriksen: HIV Hysteria – Pop Star Is No Angel, But Neither Are Persecutors, in the international edition of Spiegel.
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?!?