NMAC Troubled by Media Focus on HIV Status of IMF Chief’s Alleged Rape Victim

May 18, 2011

NMAC Troubled By Media Focus on HIV Status of IMF Chief’s Alleged Rape Victim The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya:

Washington, DC — “The media speculation surrounding the HIV status of former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged rape victim is not only disturbing, it is irrelevant. The woman making the allegations claims that she was sexually brutalized and raped. If true, she showed great courage in coming forward and should be supported.

“Instead, the press is focusing on her HIV status, a fact that has absolutely no bearing on the criminal proceedings. Speculation of this sort only serves to further stigmatize those living with HIV, and may discourage other victims of sexual violence from speaking up. It is difficult enough for rape victims to confront their attackers without having to worry about whether their sexual history or HIV status will become fodder for newspapers.

“As a man who has been living with HIV for over twenty years, I know all too well the stigma associated with HIV, and have worked to combat it my entire career. Everyone has the right to privacy, and no one should be forced to disclose their status publicly unless they choose to do so. Those in the media who are attempting to discern this woman’s HIV status through her housing arrangements may be abiding by the letter of New York’s confidentiality laws, but certainly not their spirit.

“The press should focus on the issues that are pertinent to the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn and stop postulating about his victim’s HIV status. All victims of sexual violence should be praised for their bravery and resilience, not exposed to pointless conjecture and gossip.”

Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333