Josh Barro Exposes The Deadly Consequences Of HIV Stigma: VIDEO


Following Donald Sterling’s ignorant and offensive remarks about Magic Johnson and HIV/AIDS, openly gay journalist Josh Barro took some time out while on MSNBC’s “The Cycle” to discuss the dire impact HIV stigma already has on our society. You’ll recall that Sterling, referring to Magic Johnson and the black community, said, 

"What has he done, can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?...He's got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anyone in South LA?...Well, what kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself.

StatsThough Sterling may sound ridiculous, having later to be instructed as to the distinction between HIV and AIDS by interviewer Anderson Cooper, Barro points out that Sterling is “far from alone in his outdated views on HIV.” In polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2012, 44% of adults responded that they would not be comfortable eating food prepared by an HIV positive person; 21% said they believe AIDS is a punishment for declining moral standards; 34% believe you can contract HIV from a drinking glass, toilet seat or a swimming pool. This stigma then has a negative impact on HIV positive individuals. According to the University of California at San Francisco, 36% of HIV patients have reported being discriminated against by a medical provider. Meanwhile, only 25% of Americans with HIV are on antiviral medications that help keep the disease at bay and individuals exposed to HIV stigma are more likely to not see their doctors and take prescribed medication. As Barro says,

Once they get tested, a majority of HIV positive individuals fall away from HIV care. And negative social attitudes are a major reason why. That is, negative attitudes about HIV are literally killing people.

Watch Barro’s full segment, AFTER THE JUMP…

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  1. What's more shocking is the HIV ignorance and stigma in the gay community. Just sayin...

    Posted by: Qj201 | May 15, 2014 9:03:04 PM

  2. victim mentality is why people take risks like unprotected sex.. instead of sinking into the repetitive world of sex for self esteem, why don't you encourage gay men to get into therapy and clean up their self destructive issues.. it may be a lot of work but it will be worth it..

    Posted by: jake john | May 15, 2014 9:03:57 PM

  3. right on and I am all about Mr. Barro these days, he is so brilliant and easy on the eyes/ears know your status, use condoms and take the meds if you are positive.

    Posted by: Patrick | May 15, 2014 9:25:45 PM

  4. who cares what your family/society says when it comes to YOUR health, no one really cares anyway so it is up to you

    Posted by: Patrick | May 15, 2014 9:27:16 PM

  5. What's more shocking are the poor choices made by men who seek sex. HIV is a choice.

    Posted by: petey | May 15, 2014 9:30:14 PM

  6. It's a losing proposition all around.

    Posted by: Arrow | May 15, 2014 9:32:38 PM

  7. The only hope of eliminating HIV is for everyone with HIV to have undetectable viral loads to minimize the chance of infecting someone (the concept of secondary prevention).

    I suspect we will always have HIV.

    Great article in NYTimes this weekend about treating schistosomiasis in women to reduce risk of HIV.

    Posted by: bravo | May 15, 2014 9:48:15 PM

  8. "only 25% of Americans with HIV are on antiviral medications"

    We've been told this for a very long time.

    Perhaps people wouldn't be so misinformed if there was not a concentrated effort to suspend all critical thinking and a concerted effort to shout-down anybody that calls into question so many of the supposed statements of fact from the supposed authorities...

    Posted by: Buckie | May 15, 2014 11:04:10 PM

  9. Rubbish. We need more stigmatization, properly targeted. People *should* feel ashamed of engaging in conduct that puts themselves and others at risk for HIV. In 2014, getting HIV is in most cases a mark of stupidity and recklessness, not heroism or victim hood.

    The key is that the stigma be linked to the unsafe conduct, not to all aspects of the HIV+ person's life. Obviously, fear of food prep and casual contact is ridiculous and should be combated. But when some educated 30 year old guy in 2014 goes out and has sex with s4ome anonymous Grindr hookup and gets infected, and will now tax the health care system for the next 40 years, that is not a morally neutral event. That is selfish, harmful, voluntary conduct that merits condemnation.

    Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2014 11:23:16 PM

  10. Sure, Dave, everyone "properly targets" their stigmatization efforts, shame works on people who already have low-to-zero self-esteem, and what you say is obvious and ridiculous must be obvious and ridiculous to everyone. And you have a way to discern someone's infection date so you'll know whether they're morally neutral (pre-1990?) or deserving of your attack. Perhaps you should have varying levels of attack for different viral vintages.

    Or you could try dealing with reality.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | May 15, 2014 11:51:11 PM

  11. Shame works wonders. It's the most powerful means of social control.
    The truth is that in this day and age most HIV infections are really the result of immoral conduct, like this guy here:

    They're not victims, they're not "poor guys" to be "understood" and nursed. Regarding them as such would be homophobic in my opinion; holding grown men to a lower ethical standard than normal because they're gay/have low self esteem?
    No thanks.

    Posted by: Pandion | May 16, 2014 1:35:22 AM

  12. And of course, going back to pre-1970s sexual standards in the gay community (i.e. regarding anal sex as the weird, dangerous kink it is - not a mainstream sexual act) would also stop the HIV epidemic with no need of shaming anyone.

    Posted by: Pandion | May 16, 2014 1:41:03 AM

  13. Some gays get very sanctimonious when you tell them they need to curb promiscuous sex -- as if promiscuity were a gay right. Gay men LOATHED Larry Kramer when he called for the closure of San Francisco bathhouses in the early 80s.

    We need to create a gay culture that isn't grounded so heavily on random pick-up sex and instant gratification. It's superficial and makes us bitchy & neurotic.

    Posted by: will | May 16, 2014 2:00:05 AM

  14. Dave,

    No good will come to you. I'm sorry for you. Good luck though !

    Posted by: goony goo goo | May 16, 2014 2:44:28 AM

  15. Great article in the New Yorker:

    Posted by: mike | May 16, 2014 4:22:14 AM

  16. What I've always wondered is:
    Consider that HIV drug companies have an economic interest in the failure of safer-sex campaigns, in that becoming HIVpositive also means bevoming a lifetime customer of HIV drug companies, assuming one has insurance. What I want to know is what safeguards do organizations in the HIV realm have in place, to protect against this conflict of interest by drug companies.

    Posted by: Rafa in Toronto | May 16, 2014 5:02:55 AM

  17. Pandion - If you're using Rense as a source, don't forget to include his position that everything bad is a result of the global Rothschild Jewish banking conspiracy.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | May 16, 2014 8:44:12 AM

  18. "The key is that the stigma be linked to the unsafe conduct, not to all aspects of the HIV+ person's life."

    I think I know what you mean but you are dead wrong.

    An HIV positive gay man is not only stigmatized because of the "unsafe conduct" that got him infected with HIV; in fact, he is often stigmatized in all areas of his life. Sometimes even by the very medical professionals who are supposed to be treating him. Yes, this still happens.

    The kind of straight people who stigmatize HIV positive gay men for being HIV positive don't like the idea of gay men having sex at all, whether they use condoms or not.

    What I am saying is that AIDS-phobic straight people don't want gay men (regardless of HIV status) having sex (with or without a condom). This is because they think, irrationally, that sex between two men inherently CAUSES HIV infection. This is where homophobia and AIDS-phobia connect.

    Posted by: elg | May 16, 2014 9:30:17 AM

  19. Some of these comments are such BS....not everyone with HIV is gay, and not everyone caught it through unsafe sex. I live with HIV, and I've found that the gay community stigmatizes HIV positive individuls FAR more than hetrosexuals.
    We are our own worst enemies and highly hypocritical.

    Posted by: JOHN | May 16, 2014 11:53:11 AM

  20. It isn't hard to stigmatize certain conduct w/o stigmatizing every aspect of the individual. We stigmatize smoking, for example, but we don't treat the smoker as contagious. When the smoker is not puffing on a cigarette, he interacts with others normally in most settings. If a fellow is exposed as having cheated on his wife, he faces stigma from family and friends for that misconduct, but that doesn't mean that he will also be considered a tax cheat, a burglar or a rapist. No, the stigma is linked to the bad behavior.

    And it is a good thing, because it reduces the incidence of bad behavior. So should it be with the acquisition or transmission of HIV in 2014. There is no reason that we should treat transmission of HIV as a morally neutral act. It should be stigmatized. And at the same time, we can grasp that HIV is not spread through food prep or casual contact, etc.

    Posted by: Dave | May 16, 2014 1:52:12 PM

  21. @ Currywurst

    My source is Dan Savage; whether it is quoted on that particular website or any other, doesn't make any difference.

    Posted by: Pandion | May 16, 2014 2:48:51 PM

  22. Pandion - YOU PROVIDED THE URL. Now you're trying to walk away from your own posting. Hilarious!

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | May 16, 2014 4:20:18 PM

  23. I think "Dave" sounds like Dan Savage.

    Posted by: Mark | May 17, 2014 9:40:35 AM

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