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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Buffalo Bills Player Tweets HIV Test Results: Over-Share or Encouraging?

By Kellee Terrell

May 25, 2012

Earlier this week, Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Clowney tweeted a picture of his negative HIV test results with the text "Got My HIV Results Back!! Thank God for keeping my body healthy and safe."

Buffalo Bills Player Tweets HIV Test Results: Over-Share or Encouraging?
Credit: David Clowney IV, @DavidClowney, Twitter

And while plenty of individuals showed him love for encouraging people to get tested, I was really taken aback by the snarky and malicious responses he received.

One Twitter follower wrote, "Just putting ya number out there for everyone."

Josh Katzowitz, a CBSSports.com blogger, made fun of Clowney's actions and wrote, "But I'll make this pledge to you: the next time I have to undergo a urine test, the first thing I'll do is tweet out the results."

A reader commented on Katzowitz's CBSSports.com piece:

"This IS what is wrong with not only Twitter, but football player's [sic] as well. Is the only reason he has 9,000 twitter follower's [sic] and did this was because he slept with them all and had to report back to them with results. What better way to tell 9,000 women you banged than to say ... 'See, I'm Clean!' Player's first thought ... how can I get my name out there (good or bad), secondary ... who the heck cares how it makes me look. How did I spend this much time writing about someone I never heard off [sic]? Damn you David Clowney for making a stupid tweet, that had to draw our attention. Idiot!!!"

Zack Kelberman, on the sports blog Helmet2Helmet.com, really hit below the belt, referring to Clowney as an unheard of "nondescript" fifth-round draft pick who finally gets to be in the news for airing his business.

And look, part of me -- the everyday "Kellee who is not TheBody.com's news editor" -- rolled my eyes, too. It had nothing to do with what he tweeted per se. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the era of social media over-sharing that we live in. It seems like every other day, celebs (and celeb wannabes) are broadcasting the silliest and most irrelevant details of their already privileged lives for the whole world to see. Honestly, it really gets on my nerves.

But then the "Kellee that all of you know" took over and was like, "Wait a minute, what is everyone tripping about? Why should HIV testing be something that is regarded as TMI?"

Because let's be real: Had he tweeted about his cholesterol levels, cancer results or a sonogram of his unborn baby, no one would have reported on it, because it wouldn't have been "salacious" enough, and if they had written about it, there wouldn't have been this vicious response.

It's very obvious that stigma is the underlying culprit here. And it's so damn upsetting because here we are, 30-plus years into this epidemic, and people equate testing with being promiscuous and consider it something that should be done in secret.

Now granted, had he tested positive, he might not have been so quick to share those results, and I would never fault him for that. But we do need more messages around testing that don't always involve an "everything being fine" outcome. The reality is that while many people will test negative, some will test positive, and we don't have much for them in terms of messaging because we spend so much time reassuring everyone that they won't test positive.

But that isn't Clowney's fault, or his concern, and that shouldn't take away from the value of his actions. Clowney's tweet sought to destigmatize testing, which is huge. Clowney (who I strongly believe to be heterosexual) is also showing other straight men that testing is for them, too. Unfortunately, that's a public health message that has yet to be successfully articulated in the African-American community.

Over the years, thanks to limitations, such as a lack of data and an obsession with the down low, the black HIV epidemic has mostly been framed as a heterosexual black woman's and gay or bisexual black man's problem. So the more messages that include heterosexual men, the better.

So, Clowney, let the haters hate. All that matters is inspiring one of your 9,000 Twitter followers who may have been afraid to get tested or didn't think HIV was his or her concern to finally get swabbed.

What do you all think? Was Clowney's tweet an over-share or encouraging?

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.


Copyright © 2012 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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See Also
13 Moments in Black Celebrity Activism
History's Biggest HIV-Positive Celebrities
More on Celebrities and HIV/AIDS
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: KEKE (MIAMI, FLORIDA) Fri., Jun. 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm EDT
WORSE, THAT IS A PATIENT RIGHT
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Comment by: Tira Faison (United States) Mon., Jun. 4, 2012 at 11:13 am EDT
I feel that negative social implications that surround HIV can only be diminished with acts such as these. Clowney is not a spokesperson for any HIV awareness campaign (is he?) so I respect his choice.

Many HIV + people use these platforms to share their feelings as well. It just happens to be that there are few HIV + celebrities (as far as I know). However if anyone is interested in checking out the personal stories of people living with HIV/AIDS The Greater Than campaign at www.greaterthan.org/
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Comment by: David S. (Jackson Heights, NY) Fri., Jun. 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm EDT
I guess that was the fastest way to get out (to the ladies) that all is fine and dandy and to give him a call
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Comment by: Sam Fri., Jun. 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm EDT
(yawn). Call me when someone actually publishes a positive result. Until then, this is just another third string nobody bragging that he's "clean".
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Comment by: Melissa (Philadelphia) Fri., Jun. 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm EDT
I think it's great that he got tested and told his followers that he did. It creates awareness and gets people talking about testing. My concern was that he tweeted his results. I feel that will add to the stigma. "Whew, I'm good cause I'm clean". What if the next test isn't negative? Now that he's told his status to thousands, would he be so quick to share those results? And, for some of those thousands of followers, someone more than likely will have a positive result for something. Since that person can boast about being "good", where does that leave them? Fear, shame and stigma. I believe your status (positive/negative) should be shared in the same manner. Those that need to know, know. For anyone else, it's none of their business.

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Comment by: Fred (Chicago, IL) Fri., Jun. 1, 2012 at 10:15 am EDT
How are we missing the point that this man's confirmation that he's negative is about as "de-stigmatizing" as the routine "DDF as of XX-XX-XXXX" that gay men list on personals ads? Give me a break. This guy isn't a hero, and he doesn't deserve a hero's response. He's advertising the socially preferred status, and as such is pulling himself up at the expense of those who don't test negative. He doesn't deserve commendation, he deserves condemnation.
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Comment by: Rob (Buffalo, NY) Thu., May. 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm EDT
Well according to the CDC, if two sport players become injured and blood is present, transmission can occur. Did he openly admit to sleeping with hundreds of people? Just a few minutes of reading on the Safe Sex forum, one can clearly see the experts here won't deny that it can happen. Maybe since he knows he is negative, we can win a Super Bowl!
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Comment by: Steve (San Diego) Wed., May. 30, 2012 at 10:56 am EDT
How about over analyzing? He helped raise awareness of testing, and for that he deserves kudos. His results were all negative, and he's a man, so showing that he's sexually active and "clean" didn't exactly take some great leap of integrity. He should be commended for doing something, but reading a lot or a little into his actions is giving him a little more credit than he is due.
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Comment by: Sue Saltmarsh (Chicago, IL) Tue., May. 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm EDT
As a die-hard, life-long football fan, I stand up and applaud David Clowney for A) having the intelligence to get tested, whether he's straight or not, whether he's slept with 9,000 women or two, B) having the courage to tweet the results, and C) enduring the string of dumb-as-dirt, HIV-phobic, macho-man commentary that I'm sure will be coming his way through cyberspace, in print, and in the locker room.

I grew up the daughter of a high school football coach. I was taught never to be a "fair weather fan" and to see gridiron warriors like my father coached them to be - men of integrity, loyalty, strength (physical and moral), and discipline. Over the last decade, we have had plenty of proof that the era of the Woody Hayes/Vince Lombardi player has given way to the selfish, irresponsible, money-driven playboy getting arrested for domestic violence, drug possession, and dog-fighting. I don't know Mr. Clowney as a player or a person, but he has given me hope that perhaps that "old-time" character still exists within the ranks of NFL players. Imagine how much stigma would be defeated if EVERY professional athlete got tested and tweeted the results, especially the positive ones. If they can all wear pink shoes to support breast cancer research, why not make HIV testing "go viral" - hang in there, David, you've provided a great example and may you catch a 70-yarder for a TD...only not against the Bears!
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Comment by: Tony (Ontario Canada) Mon., May. 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm EDT
I commend him. He is promoting testing and that is huge.....know your status!
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Comment by: Mia (Rochester, NY) Sun., May. 27, 2012 at 9:36 am EDT
Good for him! Keeping it in the closet negative or positive does help the current situation. If we were more open then I believe the spreading of HIV would lessen.
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Comment by: alive2 (buffalo ny) Sat., May. 26, 2012 at 6:13 am EDT
for anyone who thinks this is not good, think again. actions like this may not be what some may want to read, but, is it not a good thing because it shows at least he knows his status?
also isnt this what most of would want to see happen more often?(not so much on twitter) i find its a good thing because some people wouldnt get a test ever, and hes out there showing the unknowing masses, its not a bad thing to know your status, as well as its a simple test.to know is good even if your positive, afterall, you would be able to get a handle sooner rather than later.
not to mention, now even anyone who may want to date him dont have to stress sleeping with him or maybe have a child with him. i applaud him for making hiv testing ok. maybey if i seen something like this years ago i just may have been more knowledgeable about hiv and did a better job at protecting myself.
to me this is no different than majic johnson telling the world hes positive, if this is what it takes to end not just stigma of having hiv/aids , it shows the common or scared person its better to know and have a test so we may begin to end this virus, and all the other issues most people are afraid to bring up in normal conversation. hell, i hope he makes the starting team now, i will go out and buy his jersey, i will route for him this year, besides hes on my home team. go bills
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Comment by: Maria Bean (Delray Beach , FL) Fri., May. 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm EDT
First and foremost let me say, I am Davids mother and contrary to popular opinion...Davids actions were meant to be vieweded ask k awareness....why can't the media and the bloggers see it for the message it was meant ..It is a shame that the majority of people are trying to label him in a negative way. But maybe just maybe somebody will be encouraged to be tested. How many of the haters have gotten tested themselves ....stop having so much to say about a subject.you probably don't know anything about ....I am so sick of it .....
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Comment by: Christina (Indiana) Fri., May. 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm EDT
I recently posted on Facebook about my 18 month old son having his final HIV test to make sure he had cleared my HIV antibodies (I'm HIV positive). A lot of my friends that knew me were super supportive but some people that didn't know me or my family very well started talking behind our backs about how could we post such private information out there for everyone to see and weren't we afraid there would be backlash against my son because of it. I have a very supportive (negative) partner and he feels the same way I do. I grew up knowing I was positive with the stigma and shame. Part of the reason it weighed so heavily on me was because it was such a dark secret that everyone was afraid to talk about. It's 2012 people - wake up - the ONLY way to encourage testing, dialog about HIV and to help reduce the stigma is to put it out there and not live in shame. My son's antibody test came back negative (which we knew it would) and I am so PROUD of that - of all the work it took scientists and me personally to have that outcome. WHY wouldn't I share with everyone?

I feel the same way about this man's test. I've never really heard of him, but I know next to nothing about sports. I do commend him though for putting it out there like if he can do it (and take care of himself / keep himself healthy) then there's no reason others shouldn't be able to.
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