The British newspaper The Sun has come under fire today following what is being described as an ‘irresponsible’ and ‘insidious’ article that speculates on a Hollywood actors HIV status.
The paper published the article on it’s front page today, titled ‘Hollywood HIV Panic’, that claims ‘Hollywood was gripped with fear last night after a womanising A-list actor was diagnosed with HIV’.
The Sun has ‘chosen not to name’ the actor, but claims that they have had a string of high-profile lovers, including ‘an award winning actress’, a ‘busty glamour model’ and a ‘celebrated media personality’.
The article goes on to speculate that the lawyers for the ‘superstar’ were preparing themselves for a ‘raft of potential legal claims’.
The article, and the headline, have been highly criticised by both the public as well as HIV campaign groups. Many went to Twitter to slam the article, some of whom suggested it was more like the articles on HIV produced in the 1980’s.
Shaun Griffin, of the British HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, spoke to The Independent and said, ‘The fact is that for anyone diagnosed with HIV, they are given treatment that reduces the amount of HIV virus to an ‘undetectable’ amount and this means that HIV cannot be passed on.’
‘The fact is that it’s utterly wrong to disclose an individuals HIV status without their permission – though we are not provided with enough information here to identify them. Even with the advances made in HIV treatment, this shows that unfounded prejudices still remain. It’s attitudes like these that perpetuate HIV stigma.’
‘Stigma is a dangerous construct and we’ve seen that it has a damaging effect on individuals and public health. It can deter people from accessing testing or treatment, and can isolate someone living with HIV causing anxiety and depression’.
According to the HIV Aware charity an estimated 100,000 people in the UK are currently living with HIV, and one in five of those are believed to be undiagnosed.