UK

Daily Mirror's HIV Poll Sparks Fierce Backlash As Social Media Revolts

12/11/2015 17:02 GMT | Updated 12/11/2015 17:59 GMT

A prominent LGBT blogger has hit out at The Daily Mirror for publishing an "insensitive, backward-thinking, blame-ridden" poll asking readers if they sympathised with an unnamed Hollywood star who reportedly has HIV.

The Sun controversially splashed on Wednesday on claims a "superstar" had contracted the virus, which was condemned as "irresponsible" by campaigners.

Susie Boniface, better known as 'Fleet Street Fox', revealed her distaste for the celebrity and attacked the man in a piece in The Mirror, The Sun's left-wing rival. "I don't feel sorry for him," Boniface wrote.

The column, published on Thursday, said: "I’m sorry I can’t strangle him with a cheap condom he couldn’t be bothered to use, and I can only hope his former lovers sue him so hard that he does at least die in the same misery, poverty and pain as so many others do."

Some readers took contention with Boniface's piece, but they reserved particular scorn for a poll within the article that asked: "Do you feel sorry for the famous actor with HIV?"

A total of 77% of respondents said they did not, while 23% said they did, according to the screengrab.

The controversy kicked off after an image, said to be of the poll, was tweeted by Gay Times columnist and Huffington Post blogger The Guyliner.

He told HuffPost UK: "The poll and the piece it was taken from disappointed me. We seemed to be having a conversation I thought was long dead, the idea there is somehow a more honourable way to contract HIV.

"The poll itself was insensitive, backward-thinking, blame-ridden and, most of all, irrelevant.

"Whoever this actor is, he hasn't come looking for our sympathy. We don't get to decide whose HIV status is the most noble."

Despite the vast majority having said they did not feel sorry for for him, people derided the poll - one describing it as "very upsetting".

The poll appeared to have been changed after The Guy Liner tweeted the image, with the question instead asking: "Do you think the famous actor should reveal their identity?"

The Terrence Higgins Trust has previously hit out at speculation about the actor's identity, saying the original Sun article was "at best... irresponsible journalism, at worst, an insidious headline grab".

"It is impossible to comment on the details here because there aren’t any," the Trust's executive director for external affairs Shaun Griffin added.

“However we can counter the lack of veracity with fact. 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 HIV cannot be passed on."

The Mirror has been contacted for comment but had not replied when this story went live.

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