When basketball player great, Magic Johnson announced his HIV status, the public was to learn quickly the disease is not a gay-only- disease, and that people of all races, sexual preferences, ages, and fame and economic status can become infected. And unlike its earlier days, as evidenced by Johnson, the HIV virus is not an immediate death sentence and people can live long productive lives.
As everyone should know by now HIV is transmitted through unprotected intimate sexual contact with a positive partner, or coming in contact with the blood and intimate body fluids of people carrying the virus.
Blah blah blah blah! It should really be old news by now.
You would think everyone would know how the illness is contracted. After all today's generation in particular of young teens and young adults have had it drilled in their head that HIV is probably here to stay for awhile and unprotected sex and possible HIV exposure can be one of the most life altering events a person should not have to experience.
Unfortunately, not all people are honest about their HIV status and others just bury their heads in the sand and choose to not even know their status.
Source of Graph: Aids.gov
So here's the deal---HIV can impact many people and cannot be transmitted through the most casual of contacts. Millions of dollars have been spent educating all of us of that fact and yet we don't really listen.
Source of Graph: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention
Today still there are those who men and women who remain ignorant on how the disease is transmitted. Others take the moral high ground that it is a person's fault when they contact the illness through sexual relations.
There have been many heroes in the story of HIV, and most people at least in their 40's and up remember the heroic late Ryan White, who become nationally known after being expelled from middle school because of his infection which was obtained through a blood transfusion.
|Ryan White (December 6, 1971-April 8, 1990)|
I would like to think Ryan White and other men and women like him who served as trail blazers about educating the world about the facts and misinformation about HIV did not die in vain. But unfortunately, due to unfounded prejudices, discrimination against people infected with HIV continues as described in a story which surfaced several weeks ago.
Can you imagine, being in the middle of a local recreational basketball game, and during a time out, a city employee would walk onto the court and confront you publicly about your HIV status and then ask you to leave the game should you admit to being positive?
The incident was not a what-if situation but actually did occur. The stone age mentality by a Florida public employee was dished out to twenty one year old Dakota Basinger during his recreational basketball team game.
Basinger revealed his HIV status on his Facebook Page. Obviously a Facebook "friend" told others of his status and then Basinger was removed him from the game and banned by the public employee from playing in the Florida Kissimme recreational basketball league again.
Eventually the city apologized and I have not read if Basinger ever returned to participate in the league again or plans on suing.
Treating people as Basinger and others like him as social pariahs will indeed drive their honesty about their personal HIV status underground.
The past weeks, Americans have been inordinately obsessed about rich man LA Clipper owner Donald Sterling's remarks about African Americans.
But the Dakota Basinger story in some respects was an equally compelling story and was virtually ignored by the mass media.
Unfortunately, men and women with HIV are also discriminated against by people of all races driving many to hide their status to avoid the similar humiliation that was dished out to Dakota Basinger.