Charlie Sheen’s HIV Disclosure Sparks Debate

Charlie Sheen’s announcement that he is HIV-positive puts back in the spotlight not just legal ramifications for the actor and his career, but the continued stigma faced by those who have the status.

On NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday, Sheen said that he had been blackmailed for “millions” to those who have threatened to expose his status, after being diagnosed four years ago. In an open letter posted on the “Today” website, Sheen wrote that “I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition.” He told Matt Lauer that he told his sexual partners ahead of time that he was HIV positive. “Yes I have…. No exceptions,” he said.

People with HIV live normal, healthy lives, and it’s the reaction to Sheen’s status that is most telling to longtime advocates of HIV issues.

“Just the fact that there were people who could try to blackmail him about his status speaks to the fact that we haven’t come as far as we need to in eliminating the stigma, and that the fear is still with us in a very palpable way,” said Allison Nichol, co-director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy in New York.

Want to know more? Got the drop on Variety  . . .

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