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Thursday, 2 July 2009

Germany: Nadja Benaissa gives TV interview, claims she's been blackmailed

Nadja Benaissa, the German pop star who is the highest-profile person ever to have been accused of criminal HIV exposure and transmission yesterday gave her first interview since her arrest - on national TV!

Talking to a very sympathetic G√ľnther Jauch - who also hosts Germany's 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - on Stern TV, she suggested that she had been blackmailed in the past due to her keeping her HIV status secret, and was now somewhat relieved it was out in the open, despite the traumatic way it had been revealed.

Highlights of the interview, published on, are below:

How are you?

I'm HIV-positive. That means I carry this virus inside of me, but I don't have AIDS. I am taking medication that controls the virus. I look after myself, I work out, I eat well. I am a completely healthy person, even if I'm HIV-positive.

How are you dealing with the fact that your HIV status is now public?
It still feels like a state of emergency. I still can't just go anywhere and be free and live like a normal human being. I now have this mark. But I am trying to make the best of it.

Have you experienced any angry reactions to the media reports about you?
There have been a few situations. I was called a slut by someone on the plane. "There's that slut from the newspaper!" I'm really amazed that grown people behave that way.

And how has your family dealt with the situation, especially your daughter?
My daughter knew nothing of my infection until it was published in the newspaper. It's been a huge shock. My parents had tried keep the headlines away from her. She didn't go to school for a while. We tried as hard as possible to protect her but it was impossible.

What do you say to the accusation that you have knowingly infected others?
There are these allegations that need to be clarified. There is an investigation by the prosecutor against me. I am working with the authorities to try and clarify these allegations. I can't comment about the specific allegations, since there's an active case against me and so I shall say nothing about this. But I am fighting for my rights.

You were in custody for several weeks. Were there moments when you lost courage?
Sometimes people we saying: "Have you heard that they want to give you ten years!" And I'd be sitting there totally defenseless and helpless. And I sometimes thought, "My God, what if I never get out of here?"

Was it difficult to keep your HIV infection a secret for so long?
It was always a strain - this pressure. Because there were always people who wanted it to come out. And I always fought to keep that information to myself. It was very stressful - always keeping my head up high, struggling to keep going. But now it's out in the open. Now I can no longer be blackmailed.



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