GMHC, the World's First HIV and AIDS Service Organization, Responds to Charlie Sheen's Announcement on His Positive HIV Status
November 17, 2015 - New York, NY: GMHC, the world's first and leading HIV and AIDS service organization, released the following statement, after Charlie Sheen's public announcement disclosing his status as HIV positive.
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie:
There is no shame – or crime – in being HIV positive. It takes incredible strength to disclose such private information to the world, and just like anyone else, Charlie Sheen deserves privacy and respect for sharing his status–no matter what his personal circumstances were.
What is a shame, however, is the latest media coverage threatening to criminalize and expose Charlie Sheen since sharing his status. Rather than encourage a factual and rational conversation around what it means to be HIV positive in 2015, this kind of coverage only perpetuates public hysteria, harkening back to the darkest days of the epidemic when people living with HIV and AIDS faced stigma, ostracism and threats of violence.
The fact is there are 50,000 new HIV infections in this country every year, and it's been that way for the past decade. Announcements like Charlie Sheen's remind us of the importance of comprehensive care services and PrEP and PEP, new life-saving tools that can help prevent new infections and suppress the virus, bringing us one step closer to defeating this disease, once and for all.
Today we have the ability to end the HIV epidemic. However, the biggest obstacle standing in our way is stigma. Stigma discourages testing, disclosure and accessing treatment. Today, anyone who is HIV-positive and adherent to their drug regimen has the ability to bring their viral load to an undetectable level. This means they are both achieving the optimal health outcome for themselves, as well as reducing the risk of transmission to "nearly zero" according the PARTNER study.
Background on PrEP and PEP, as well as HIV basics:
Gratefully the tool box to prevent HIV has grown. In addition to condoms, GMHC champions the widespread adoption of PrEP and PEP. PrEP is a new life-saving medication that if taken as prescribed is over 90% effective in preventing HIV. Talk to your doctor about how you can incorporate PrEP as an HIV prevention tool.
Additionally, if you believe you have been exposed to HIV, you should contact a medical professional immediately, and ask about PEP which helps reduce transmission after exposure.
For more information about HIV basics, visit: gmhc.org/hiv-info/hivaids-basics . For more information on PrEP and PEP, visit: gmhc.org/prep.
For the GMHC HIV/AIDS Hotline, call 1-800-243-7692.
Contact: Anthony Hayes
"Reproduced with permission - GMHC"
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