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Charlie Sheen and the never ending stigma

Nov 28, 2015

Charlie Sheen's HIV disclosure story has once for all demonstrated how well and alive stigma is. He was blackmailed to the point that he needed to come forward and telling he world that he's HIV infected. Many medias are now reporting that Sheen possibly faces multiple charges for not disclosing his status and for intentional transmission, setting probably the first record in criminalization cases (someone claims 700 partners are seeking legal support). Despite this people claims that we already reached the top of treatment possibilities and that an actual cure is not necessary. On the other side people says stigma will never end until a cure is found. Do you think we will reach the end of HIV stigma and criminalization before a cure? Many reporters are telling that despite an undetectable viral load, which Sheen claims to have, he's still a potential risk for others and able to infect partners. Dear Mr. Young, we are very far away from a public acceptance of the disease and my impression is that things will get worse over time. The media rampage against Sheen is just at the beginning.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

While the media storm around Charlie Sheen seems to be dying down, the attention he garnered, the blackmail that he suffered all speak to prevailing ignorance, stigma and discrimination. FWIW, I for one, spoke to mainstream media about how being on treatment virtually eliminates the risk of HIV (but not other sexually transmitted) infections.

We've come an amazing distance with the science and treatment of HIV, and indeed, even some of the most base AIDS discrimination has waned (at least in some quarters), but it will take continued efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Will stigma and discrimination end? I hope so, but, like HIV cure, this will take a concerted effort and confrontation of stigma whenever and where ever it lives.

Thanks for reading, BY



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