Massachusetts Lawmaker Announces He is HIV-Positive, Resigns to Run AIDS Charity


Out gay Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino (above, right), who made headlines last November in an ad in which he came out to his Tea Party father as a Massachusetts liberal one month after marrying his partner Pem Brown, announced he's resigning from his office in the state's 34th Middlesex District. 

Sciortino said he's HIV-positive, and plans to lead Massachusetts' AIDS Action Committee:

“As a gay man living with HIV, I am honored to lead one of the country’s oldest and most effective organizations in the battle against this disease which has raged on over 30 years,” said Sciortino. “My goal for AIDS Action in the years ahead is simple: continue the work that has resulted in lowering the rate of new HIV diagnoses in Massachusetts; provide the multitude of services needed to keep those living with HIV/AIDS connected with health care providers; and continue the public conversation about HIV needed to reduce the stigma that is still so closely associated with this disease.”


  1. DW says

    The schtick with his Tea Party dad was tacky. I’m in favor of more HIV+ people being open, but this guys needs a bit more of a filter.

  2. jmartindale says

    It doesn’t say when he discovered his status. Perhaps he just found out. It would be a hard thing to be in politics with that condition…poetntially open to attempts at blackmail, or simple smears. He has done nothing wrong that I can see. I see no reason he should be criticized for his actions here. I am sorry to hear about his health problems and wish him well.

  3. Tad says

    Because he spent time trying to mount a campaign and convince voters he was genuinely interested in being an effective politician. He made himself a public spectacle with advertisements – and then decided to throw it all away.

  4. JackFknTwist says

    So why is he resigning ?
    I don’t see anything too onerous in managing his health status and his public duties.

    Just get on with it dude.
    You’ll get more respect by standing up and doing battle; but getting out of your public office duties just because you are positive is a poor start towards “continuing the conversation about HIV.”
    You would be better off continuing that battle in the Legislature, securing programmes and social support.
    You seem to have put your personal issues under a magnifying glass.
    HIV has been managed by others.

  5. Jake says

    @JackFknTwist Did you bother to read more than half the headline? He’s leaving to RUN AIDS ACTION.

  6. Will says

    @TAD you’re right, he is an embarrassment because either he had HIV all along and should have disclosed that to the voters before running for public office or he contracted HIV after getting married and he plays right into the “gays are promiscuous” cliché.

    No matter what, he didn’t act in the best interest of the people he represents and that is embarrassing.

  7. John says

    I’m no fan of elected officials leaving before the end of their term, but this aint exactly Palin politics. He has served for years and is only shy of his term by a few months.

  8. JJJJJJ says

    He shouldn’t have had to disclose this to voters necessarily – does it really make a difference when serving in most any job? I think it’s more silly he’s resigning – because it seems unnecessary and perpetuates the HIV stigma – unless he just really wants to resign for other reasons.

  9. JJJJJJ says

    He shouldn’t have had to disclose this to voters necessarily – does it really make a difference when serving in most any job? I think it’s more silly he’s resigning – because it seems unnecessary and perpetuates the HIV stigma – unless he just really wants to resign for other reasons.

  10. Jack says

    It’s pathetic because there is no reason he had to get HIV. He has compromised his health and possibly the health of others. And he will needlessly tax the health care system, depriving resources to others.

    He’s irresponsible. And we can add NYC Council member Corey Johnson to the list of pathetic irresponsible losers.

    You object because you think this is “shaming” or “stigmatizing”? Good! It should be stigmatizing to acquire and spread a deadly disease. This is what a life of hookups and Grindr encounters and bars will lead to. Stop it already.

  11. Doug says

    Geez, read it first before commenting. Carl being HIV+ positive has nothing to do with his resigning. Well, not in the manner that he is being forced to resign. He is resigning his seat to become the head of the AIDS Action Committee, which is one of the oldest HIV/AIDS organization in Massachusetts. And he will become the first HIV+ head of that organization, which I think is a good thing.

    I live in one of the cities he represented, and I can tell you, if he disclosed this during a campaign, I don’t think it would’ve made any difference, just based on the makeup of his district. I did see it mentioned that he has known his status for years, though he didn’t say how many. But it really doesn’t matter.

    I wish Carl success at AAC, he has always been dedicated to public health issues, and this is one that is very dear to him. I think it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

  12. jmartindale says

    Jack, You are a bit judgmental. No, let me put it differently. F*ck you, you stupid SOB. May you die a lonely, painful death derided and despised by all around you.

  13. pete n sfo says

    What’s with all the judgey comments about HIV? Sex is messy business and sometimes things happen.

    His status isn’t the reason he’s leaving his position. He’s leaving for a different opportunity. I don’t like it when we lose a sitting Dem but in this case, I suspect his experience, personal and professional, will make him a great asset to Aids Action.

  14. Demar says

    How funny is it that he is going to an AIDS prevention group. How is he qualified to teach anyone? He is an example of how not to act.

  15. JM says

    I can’t believe the amount of hostility from some of the posters here, especially Jack and Tad. You two need to get a bloody education and stop being such judgmental pricks. As Doug points out he has been in office for some time and is leaving to take a position that is a great opportunity. Demar you’re another idiot with your entire comment.

  16. Tommy says

    “What’s with all the judgey comments about HIV? Sex is messy business and sometimes things happen.”

    Pete, you’re a sick f*ck. Srsly, how did you become this way? Things happen? This is a life-threatening illness. If you fail to take it seriously, then you should be held morally accountable. If you don’t think that compromising human health and taking human lives warrants moral judgment, then there is something fundamentally wrong with you. You should probably be on a law enforcement watch list.

    It is also hard to see how anyone could be considered progressive if they rob poor people of limited health resources because they couldn’t control their sexual behavior.

  17. Jack says


    Lol! So your message is: 1) it is bad to link disease to moral judgment and 2) “stupid SOBs” deserve to die horrible deaths from disease. OK, then.

    Anyway, I won’t wish the same on you because I actually value human life. I don’t wish disease and death on anyone. It is too bad you and Sciortino don’t feel the same way.

    And believe me, I am well educated about HIV. That is why I don’t have it.

    I think the lack of education lies with the folks who keep getting it in 2014. It isn’t a lack of education about the mechanics of transmission. It is a lack of moral education about the gravity of the issue and about the need to stop using sex as a long-term recreational outlet with strangers. Even if you avoid HIV and the 2 dozen other prevalent STIs, over the long term, you are still far more likely to experience stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness, social isolation, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.

    When it goes beyond a few years, the hookup life is a disaster. It isn’t worth it.

  18. reader says

    Carl didn’t resign because he is HIV positive. He resigned because he has the chance to run a fantastic organization helping people like himself, who are HIV positive or who have AIDS. That’s it.

    Plenty of elected officials are living with HIV, and it’s immaterial to their public service.

    To the commentators more interested in policing the personal health or private sex lives of elected officials, go to hell you evil trolls.

  19. Kenneth says

    All you so called morallity police on here are worse than the deceased Fred Phelps and his cult. More than likely, you are just one troll from said cult polluting this site with your ignorance and bile. You haven’t the slightest idea the circumstances of his positive status, not when, how or from whom he was exposed, yet here you are blathering on all preachy and holier-than-thou as if you do. F%*k off! If you are gay, you are an embarrassment to the LGBT community and should just go find yourselves some “reparative therapy” or at the very least see a qualified mental health therapist!

  20. Brian W. says

    I wonder if his husband knew before he married him in October.

    For those that have forgotten Carl ran to replace Ed Markey in the U.S House, but lost in the primary. His candidacy and his brilliant ad with his dad garnered him national media attention.

  21. TJ says

    All poz guys should announce their status like this chap so us neg guys know who the hell to stay away from

  22. newsblues says

    @TJ: All ignorant guys should announce their status like you so us enlightened guys know who the hell to stay away from

  23. says

    He’s leaving office to pursue another opportunity. It’s hardly rare and not particularly newsworthy.

    His HIV status was never voters’ business unless he wanted it to be or unless medical disclosures are required of all seeking office, and how his status affects his marriage–if, indeed, it does at all–is purely between Carl and his husband.

  24. SpaceCadet says

    So many judgmental pricks on here. As if human beings are infallible and never make a mistake even one time, because all it takes is one time to get HIV. May those of you who are wagging your finger like you are almighty have a date with karma.

  25. Berry Friedlander says

    Ernie, you don’t think it says something about a man’s character he is an educated, affluent adult and gets a deadly sexually transmitted infection despite knowing exactly how it is transmitted?

    Whether and to what extent you respect human life and human health says a great deal about your values and character. HIV infection is not morally neutral.

  26. Berry Friedlander says

    Space Cadet,

    So you don’t think we should assign moral meaning to getting and spreading HIV. And then you say that those who have made comments with which you disagree should get HIV as form of karma. But in casting judgment on the other commenters, you are now, by your own standard, judging yourself and condemning yourself to a karmic date with HIV. I’d say you are morally confused.

    Sciortino’s infection may have been the result of a one-time, catastrophic mistake. That doesn’t mean that it lacks a moral component. Negligence or recklessness in the face of a deadly disease is a moral failure. OTOH, it may not have been the result of a one-off error in judgment. We don’t know and he isn’t saying. He obviously thinks that it doesn’t matter and cares more about reducing “stigma.” He’s part of the problem.

    If he would truly come out and say “This is how it happened. It was wrong. I have hurt myself and others. It was the biggest screw up of my life. I want to tell others about it so that they don’t go down the same road I did.” he could be part of the solution.

  27. local_dc_gay says

    @WILL “and should have disclosed that to the voters before running for public office”

    Are you kidding me?! Why the hell is that the business of any voter…how does that affect the way he conducts business on Beacon Hill?!

  28. Matt says

    There is something very suspicious about some of these hateful and vicious comments. Has Tony Perkins directed his followers to troll this website or something? Because it certainly looks like it.

  29. SpaceCadet says

    Berry Friedlander,

    You seem to make a lot of assumptions and you should learn to read as well. I was saying anyone who is acting all high and mighty, such as yourself, should realize they are apt to mess up through a mistake because no one is perfect. No where did I say someone should acquire HIV because they judged someone else for having acquired it. And you don’t know how this person acquired HIV, whether it was one time or multiples times, before his marriage or after, or if he acquired it from his partner before or after they were married or if he got it from his partnerwhether he was aware of it or not. He owes you no explanation of his private life, and yet he made the bold and honest declaration that he is HIV-positive and is going to head up an organization to prevent the very same stigma you are trying to perpetuate through shaming. But you are perfect and make no mistakes so by all means continue to be a judgmental and compassionless troll.

  30. Mike says

    I agree,Matt. There are some very hostile & holier than thou comments not only on this story but others. Something is amiss.

  31. says

    @Berry: You’re making all kinds of presumptions (how do you know he’s harmed others? how do you know he doesn’t respect human life?) based on your imagination and your moral judgments around sex. Human behaviors around sex are no different than human behaviors around anything else–we’re fallible creatures who screw up in myriad ways. Many diseases are preventable or largely preventable. Many accidents are preventable. Yet imperfect human beings get sick and in accidents every day. Such is life.

    People with HIV should have no special burden to explain the circumstances of their disease with anyone but their loved ones and/or intimate partners. Certainly he didn’t owe voters an explanation, nor does he owe you one. In his new work, he has an opportunity to use his experiences, including his mistakes, to help others from getting infected. It sounds like that’s exactly what he intends to do.

  32. mikeflower says

    American politics needs ppl like Carl serving in public office. I’m disappointed.