September 13, 2012
Oakland, Calif. -- The U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN), a national membership body of women living with HIV, is devastated to hear the tragic news that a young woman living with HIV in Dallas, Texas, was murdered for disclosing her HIV status to a partner. PWN calls for immediate action to reduce stigma and to eliminate violence against women living with HIV.
On Thursday, September 6th, 28-year-old Cicely Bolden was brutally stabbed to death after disclosing her HIV status to a sexual partner. Bolden's body was found by her two young children later that day when they came home from school.
"This situation is heartbreaking on so many levels. It points to the lack of information people have about how HIV is transmitted, the stigma that people living with HIV face daily, and a lack of support for people to safely and voluntarily disclose their HIV status. Ms. Bolden courageously shared her status with her new boyfriend, and was killed as a result," says Michelle Anderson, Lead Peer Educator at the Afiya Center for HIV Prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Justice in Dallas, TX, an openly HIV-positive woman and member of U.S. Positive Women's Network. "Under these circumstances, how can a woman feel safe to disclose her HIV status in any context and know that it won't be used against her?
Studies show that violence against U.S. women living with HIV is pervasive, and may correlate with emotional abuse, financial control, poor health outcomes, and women being lost to medical care. New data released earlier this year revealed that violence leads to death for women living with HIV, and that HIV-positive women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a rate more than five times than that of the general population.
"People living with HIV have the right to choose if, when, and how they want to disclose their HIV status if they choose to disclose. Unfortunately, healthcare providers and public health workers sometimes coerce women living with HIV to disclose -- even in situations that are unsafe to them. People need support to disclose safely, including mental health services available to themselves, partners, and family members, says Barb Cardell, coordinator of the Colorado Positive Women's Network.
On behalf of women living with HIV who daily face disproportionate rates of stigma, violence and abuse, the U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN) demands bold action is taken, including: