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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICW calls for education of the public on HIV transmission routes and hindrance of violence against HIV positive women as a result of a monstrous murder in Texas, USA
The International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) and the North America (ICWNA)chapterare shocked to learn the news of the murder of Elisha Henson, an HIV positive woman from Texas, USA this past May. Her murder was as a result of the ignorance of the murderers of the ways that HIV is transmitted and the overall social stigma towards HIV positive women.
According to several media outlets, Justin Welch and Rosalind Welch Smith, have been charged with Henson’s murder. Authorities believe that the alleged perpetrator, Justin Welch, killed Ms. Henson after learning her status following a virtually zero-risk transmission encounter: receiving oral sex, female to male.
ICW thereby call for massive action towards educating people of the possibilities of HIV transmission. This atrocious event teaches us that the lack of adequate information puts vulnerable people, especially HIV positive women, to extremely dangerous situations followed by stigma-fuelled reactions by the public.
“Enough is enough!” said Jessica Whitbread, ICW Interim Global Director, “The team at ICW, are absolutely appalled at the fact that there is not more outcry for such a horrific event. Our heart goes out to Elisha and her loved ones.”
Fear of the unknown, mainstream stigma and inaccurate facts can lead to an ignition of anger leading to violence in those where the potential already exists. As a community we should ensure that violence against women, violence based on a woman’s status, and violence based on ignorance of the facts and lack of mainstream education comes to an end.
“Accurate and easy to understand facts about HIV transmission needs to be infused into the minds of the general public via far-reaching media outlets and not just contained within the HIV community” added Karen Marcinczyk, ICWNA Coordinator.
We must end the criminalisation against positive women including disclosure laws which only encourage stigma and validate the idea that being HIV positive is a crime that must be prosecuted. We must stop criminalization to guarantee that other HIV positive women in the world do not suffer the same fate.
ICW asks that all communities, including the HIV community, the media and law enforcement begin to work together to eliminate violence against positive women, seek justice and provide responsible, accurate and stigma-free communication to the public which puts their trust in them.
For more information contact:
Karen Marcinczyk, ICW North America Coordinator
Arinola Elizabeth Nite, ICW Communications Associate