Actress Gloria Reuben, who played an HIV-positive woman on NBC's television drama "ER" and left the show in 2000, on Thursday rejoined the cast for a "one-time appearance," the Los Angeles Times reports.
Reuben before leaving the show played a physician's assistant named Jeanie Boulet who contracted HIV from her husband after he had sex with another woman. The character represented the first time a prime-time series showed an HIV-positive woman continuing "with her life and career despite the stigma surrounding the virus," according to the Times (Braxton, Los Angeles Times, 1/2). When Reuben left the show, she and the producers decided to avoid sending a negative message about HIV/AIDS by not having the character die, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/3). In Thursday's episode, Boulet is directing two HIV/AIDS clinics and sends her son to the emergency department at the fictional hospital where the show is set after he is injured in a gym class.
According to the Times, since Reuben's departure from the program, she has begun working as an advocate for HIV/AIDS. She has spoken during World AIDS Day and this year produced a program, "Positive Voices: Women and HIV," for Showtime, on which she interviews women living with or affected by the virus. In addition, she has co-starred in an HBO film "Life Support," which featured Queen Latifah as an HIV-positive woman (Los Angeles Times, 1/2). According to the Post-Gazette, Reuben became an HIV/AIDS advocate after reading about high death rates among black women with HIV/AIDS (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/3).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2008 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.