Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

Sign an Open Letter to Tyler Perry: Stop Stigmatizing People With HIV

May 20, 2013

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Sign this petition as an individual
Sign on as an organization

Please sign and share!


An Open Letter to Tyler Perry

Dear Mr. Perry,

We write as people living with HIV and their allies to express our deep disappointment with your latest film, Temptation. This disappointment is made all the greater because you have done much that can be applauded. Audiences see your plays and films not simply as entertainment, but as opportunities for inspiration, spiritual healing, and unity.

In Temptation, however, you have done a great disservice to people with HIV, and particularly to the African-American community, which, as you know, is disproportionately affected by HIV.

As you may be aware, one of the greatest barriers to addressing the HIV epidemic is the high level of stigma and misinformation attached to this simple virus. Stigma prevents people from getting tested for HIV, from protecting themselves during sex, from accessing care when they test positive, and from disclosing their HIV status to family, friends, and sexual partners. Myths and outdated perceptions about how HIV is transmitted and the implications of an HIV diagnosis have resulted in discriminatory treatment towards, and violence against, people living with HIV.

Advertisement

Unfortunately, Temptation can only serve to perpetuate stigma. Your film depicts people with HIV as untouchable and unlovable, doomed to a lifetime of loneliness, and unable to tell their own stories. It implies that men with HIV are sexually irresponsible and predatory. And the final image -- that of a woman who has been infected with HIV due to an extramarital affair walking away alone and unhealthy -- sends the message that HIV is a punishment for immoral behavior.

Mr. Perry, as a leader in the African-American community, is this really the message you want to send in 2013, over three decades into this epidemic? Your impact on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in the community is not insignificant. And if you portray people with HIV as sinful, secretive monsters, unworthy of love and incapable of reproduction, what incentive do people have to learn their HIV status or for people with HIV to disclose their status?

HIV is not something that "guilty" people get. It is not a punishment for cheating, lying, using drugs or alcohol, having more than one partner, or not asking the right questions. It is a virus whose transmission is fueled by poverty, ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, fear, violence, and many other factors - not by people with HIV. In fact, studies show that the overwhelming majority of people with HIV fiercely protect their partners once they know their HIV status. Many of us are in long-term relationships with HIV-negative partners. And yes, we even have children!

We call on you to undo the damage that your film has undoubtedly already caused.

We ask you to meet with people living with HIV and hear our stories. We know that you are deeply committed to the communities that have supported your work and we ask that you make a public statement and consult with us to develop storylines that will help end HIV stigma so we can get to the real business of ending this epidemic, together.

Your response is greatly appreciated and we look forward to hearing from you in the very near future. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

We await your response.

Signed,

List in formation

Sign this petition as an individual
Sign on as an organization

Send PWN-USA an email.

Read PWN-USA's blog.

Get e-mail notifications every time PWN-USA's blog is updated.


Related Stories

Tyler Perry's Temptation Sentences People With HIV to a Lifetime of Stigma and Isolation
U.S. Positive Women's Network

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



This article was provided by Positive Women's Network of the United States of America. Visit PWN-USA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.


Reader Comments:

Comment by: CGT (Timbuktu ) Thu., Oct. 31, 2013 at 6:21 am EDT
Who is Tyler Perry?
Reply to this comment


Comment by: joe (baton rouge, la) Mon., Aug. 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm EDT
I think tyler perrys movie was sad but i dont think he was yrying to say that were morally wrong or we will be alone forever. maybe thats just how he saw her character. maybe the message he was trying to put out was protect yourself. maybe if we had more people like tyler perry who is real enough to put the issue out there people would learn more about it. Some people with the virus are predators. and sone of us do end up alone. it was alot easier to date before i was diagnosed. tyler perry should continue his work.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Elaine Colon (San Juan, PR) Thu., Aug. 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm EDT
I know you will do the right thing.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Jeffrey (Orlando, FL) Fri., Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm EDT
No More Tyler Perry movies for me and my family...How could you be so ignorant in this day and age. Your comments are disgusting, hurtful and send a chilling message for those people thriving and living well with HIV. Yes, prevention is best way to go but for many (like my Brother) that ship has sailed. Again, you are a non issue in my home from now on.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Anonymous Thu., Jul. 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm EDT
The movie depicts a woman who suffers a consequence for her infidelity, and that consequence is HIV. the character cannot be depicted a healthy, happy, Black woman living with the virus, because the movie would not serve its purpose- to show audiences that choices like these may have a hefty price. I'm no Tyler perry fan, but people, it isn't that deep. He's a FILMMAKER, that's all. He tells a story. The movie served its purpose. Drop it and leave the man alone.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Krista K (Bay Area, CA) Fri., May. 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm EDT
I saw the movie "Temptation" and allI could think about the movie was how you slut-shamed the main character the entire time.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Bill D (Oakland, CA.) Fri., May. 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm EDT
Mr. Perry. Please view a number of important PBS films about AIDS in the Black Community. Go to Google and type in PBS, Aids and Black Community.
MANY heterosexual black women and men have worked tirelessly for 30 years to heal and conquer the stigma that you want to put on a pedastal in 2013-2014. Also, as you must know, MANY are aware of the possibility of OUTING YOU. So, I think some deep thought on your end needs to happen.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Robert W. (Washington Dc) Sun., May. 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm EDT
retweet from Ontell Babbitt

No it sends a message that being irresponsible with your sexual health can cost you YOUR LIFE.
It sends a message that the fasted growing number of newly reported HIV cases are found in straight married women this past decade.
It sends the message that ... JUST BECAUSE REALITY AINT PRETTY DOESNT MEAN WE SHOULD HIDE IT.
Guess how many people Tyler Perry likely SAVES with the impact of this movie?
Thank you.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Sanam G. (La Verne, CA, USA) Fri., May. 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm EDT
You have to counter pervasive problems pertaining to public health with information rather than stigmatization.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: An Mays (Atl. Ga.) Fri., May. 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm EDT
I just wanted to make a correction. Tyler Perry isn't a leader in the Black community as you stated in your letter.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: W. O. Neal (Baltimore, MD) Fri., May. 24, 2013 at 11:04 am EDT
"With great power comes great responsibility"
--Voltaire
Reply to this comment


Comment by: H1tters (Broward) Mon., May. 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm EDT
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymEMXcvx39A
Reply to this comment


Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Advertisement