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Case of HIV-Positive Canadian Football Player Refuels Debate Over HIV-Positive Professional Athletes, New York Times Reports

November 15, 2005

The case of an HIV-positive Canadian Football League player "has rekindled debate" over whether HIV-positive athletes "should be barred from competition," the New York Times reports. Trevis Smith, a seven-season veteran of the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, was arrested on Oct. 28 and charged with aggravated sexual assault. The police disclosed Smith's HIV-positive status to the public, saying such a warning was necessary. Team officials said they had been aware of Smith's status for about one year but privacy laws had prevented them from disclosing the information to his teammates. At a Nov. 2 hearing, Smith, who denies the charges, was freed on bail of about $8,300 and ordered by a judge to use condoms, disclose to his sexual partners that he is HIV-positive and give up his passport. The judge did not provide conditions on Smith's eligibility to continue playing in the CFL. Although Smith continued playing in the league after he disclosed his status to team officials, he has been listed on the Roughriders' disabled list and has not played since his arrest. The case comes nearly a decade after National Basketball Association star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who is HIV-positive, made a second comeback to the league, after concerns from several NBA players led him to end his first comeback attempt in 1992. Some CFL players are expressing similar concerns, and the Canadian Public Health Association is distributing HIV/AIDS educational information to the nine CFL teams (Westhead, New York Times, 11/15).

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