THE BLOG

No One 'Deserves' HIV

12/11/2015 12:08 GMT | Updated 11/11/2016 10:12 GMT

So everyone is frothing about The Sun's front page about the Hollywood actor with HIV.

Personally, as someone who has lived with HIV for 30 years, I wish he'd just say "Yup, I got HIV because I took some risks, but I'm on the meds now and not infectious, I'm getting on with my career, deal with it."

But of course he won't, because HIV is still supposed to be a Dreadful Life Lesson taught to Naughty Selfish People who do Bad Irresponsible Things. He'll have to Repent and Learn a Lesson and become the patron of an HIV charity.

Meanwhile, I think the reaction column by Fleet Street Fox (love the nick, sister!) in the Mirror is actually worse than the Sun story.

Under the guise of supporting "average", non-privileged HIV-positive people in poor countries (Lesotho as the example), it viciously perpetuates HIV stigma and the view of HIV as a Just Punishment, in the purest way.

HIV-positive people everywhere get called irresponsible, careless, selfish sluts. I should know. Those poor underprivileged deserving HIV-positive women in Lesotho? They ain't going to wear their HIV as a badge of pride, any more than Mr X is, because you can bet in High Street Lesotho they have the same muck, not to say fists, thrown at them as 'Fleet Street Fox' is throwing at him.

FSF's column is also perpetuating the sexist stereotype that women are always sexual victims (except, clearly, for Ms Fox) and men sexual aggressors.

You don't improve the lives of poor people in Africa with HIV by ranting against HIV positive film stars. No matter how privileged they may be.

The issue is not whether you feel sympathy for some people with HIV and not with others. I don't care whether Mr X is saint or schmuck.

The issue us that no-one that catches such a still potentially lethal sexually transmitted infection should be paraded before us for public disapproval, because all you do is perpetuate the message that HIV infection is something to be ashamed of. Something deserved. It's not.