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By Precious Jackson
I’m saddened to hear about Cicely Bolden’s murder at the hand of her intimate partner when this did not need to happen. Bolden was a woman living with HIV, with two young children, who disclosed her status to her partner after they had sex. Maybe she didn’t feel comfortable enough to disclose her status earlier. Maybe she felt she would be stigmatized, judged, and/or looked upon as “damaged goods,” something I have heard many women living with HIV say they about themselves. Maybe Cicely and her partner had protected sex, which can significantly reduce HIV transmission. Maybe Cicely was on treatment with an undetectable viral load and knew that she was protecting her partner by taking care of herself. Maybe Cicely had bad experiences disclosing her status in the past and was still stigmatized.
I commend her for having the courage to disclose her status anyway because she didn’t have to. It is sad that thirty-one years into the HIV epidemic, stigma is the main contributing factor as to why people living with HIV are not comfortable in disclosing their status. A community’s lack of education and awareness about HIV and providers and health care systems that continue to stigmatize people living with HIV can cause HIV-positive people to live in fear and isolation.
This is why HIV prevention, care, and treatment education is so important. Understanding how HIV is transmitted and acquired could have prevented this murder and could help to prevent similar acts of violence in the future. If Mr. Dunn was educated about HIV he wouldn’t have made the comment, “She killed me, so I killed her.” There is no excuse for ignorance. Get educated about HIV. It can save your life!
Read U.S. Positive Women’s Network’s statement here.
Precious Jackson is a long-time advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. She is also a member and Strategic Communicator with U.S. Positive Women’s Network. To read a terrific interview with Precious, click here.