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Florida: HIV-Positive Player Kicked Off Kissimmee Rec Basketball Team

April 16, 2014

This article was reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that a 21-year-old man was removed from a Kissimmee Parks and Recreation basketball game because he was HIV-positive. The young man had been playing with Florida Dream Sports, a Kissimmee-sponsored basketball league, all season. He had received the diagnosis only a week prior and had posted it on his Facebook page. During the playoff game, the referee called a timeout and the teams retired to their benches. A city employee then called the young man into a room and asked whether he was HIV-positive. When he replied affirmatively, the employee informed him that he could no longer play with the league. The young man said that he felt humiliated and discriminated against.

On hearing of the incident, the city responded that the part-time employee had "acted independently and without supervisor approval" by expelling the young man from the league. Arin Thrower, the city's spokesperson, reported that the city had taken corrective action to prevent a recurrence of this behavior and that the young man will be allowed participate in the basketball league when it resumes.

The young man's mother, who was present during the incident, commented that people needed to educate themselves about HIV as it is not transmitted by casual contact. She also was angry at society's continued discrimination of HIV-positive individuals and noted that her son was "going through a lot" having to deal with his recent diagnosis. A teammate stated that he was aware of the other player's diagnosis, but was not bothered as "You can't catch HIV by playing ball."

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