THE BLOG

Who's Up For a Game of 'Guess The Hollywood A-Lister With HIV'? Not Me, Thanks

11/11/2015 12:25 GMT | Updated 11/11/2016 10:12 GMT

I remember the first time I found out a friend of mine had been diagnosed HIV-positive. I was horrified.

Not because they had HIV, but because I was told by someone who had no business sharing that information with me, and passing it off as idle gossip.

There was also the fact that my friend didn't even know that I now knew.

No such luck for the 'Superstar Hollywood Actor' who is living with HIV, as The Sun have felt necessary to inform us all today.

Thanks to their screaming front page, the star in question now knows that rather a lot of people are playing a rather unpleasant game of 'guess who?'.

The paper, which very kindly, chooses not to name the star in question, then ups their 'game' with the inclusion of a graphic featuring a male silhouette with a huge question mark on his head, and another 'clue': he's a "superstar womaniser".

"Hollywood was gripped with fear," the story sensationally begins, before going on to include yet more clues about the identities of six famous women - including "an award-winning actress", "a busty glamour model" and "a celebrated media personality" - he has been linked to and who therefore, he might have "put at risk".

Are The Sun really that desperate for sales and page impressions that they are now resorting to running the sort of blind items usually reserved for the Popbitch newsletter?

Newsflash! It's none of our bloody business.

The actor in question has reportedly known his status for several years and despite the Sun's claims that "friends have privately encouraged him to open up about his condition", he has chosen not to.

Which is his right.

Last time I checked, having HIV doesn't affect your ability to act convincingly. Or drive a bus. Or teach. Or work in accounts. Or live a long, fulfilling, healthy life.

If he chose to reveal himself and his status, then that would be a story, and a positive story at that. But it is certainly not his responsibility to do so, despite what The Sun might think and who have, in the process, potentially helped undo years of work battling the stigma attached to HIV.

And it's not just me who is extremely uncomfortable and appalled by this irresponsible 'story'.

Shaun Griffin, the executive director of external affairs for the Terrence Higgins Trust, told The Independent: "The fact is that it is utterly wrong to disclose an individual's HIV status without their permission - though we are provided with enough information here to effectively identify them.

"Even with the advances made in HIV testing and treatment, this shows that unfounded prejudices still remain. It is attitudes like these that perpetuate HIV stigma."

In the Sun's report, the 'insider' goes on to label the star "disgusting" because he's "knowingly put women at risk".

Disgusting? I'd argue that using appropriate protection was the responsibility of both consenting adults before jumping between the sheets.

"It's only a matter of time before it becomes public," the source adds.

Let's hope The Sun doesn't help that become a reality.