US: The cruel HIV stalking of Charlie Sheen takes us back to the ignorant 1980s

Charlie Sheen has officially come out as HIV positive. He was forced to do so in the wake of shrill tabloid reporting that harkened back to the worst HIV-related ignorance and bullying of the 1980s.

It feels like the 1980s, because of the nature of the speculation, which is purely prurient about Sheen basically being a man-slut, and how many people he has infected with HIV—and how knowingly has he done so, without disclosing his status to them. Suddenly, in my mind, Sheen seems like the kind of hunted man Rock Hudson became, as cameras followed him being shuttled on and off planes as he became sicker and sicker. The media likes nothing more than an ailing star—even better if HIV and AIDS means the story gets front-loaded with all kinds of judgment about their “lifestyle,” sexual and otherwise.

This obviously takes it as a given that Sheen’s right to privacy has been thoroughly trampled, and that this is somehow acceptable: He has been smoked out of the closet. The Enquirer, seeing their scoop slip through their fingers, has a feverish front page, the result of much investigation, which promises to expose the “Ex-Lovers’ Horror—Did He Infect Them?” Plus: “He’s Slept With Thousands of Women—And Men!”

The headline is a throwback too—to conflating HIV, a virus, and AIDS, the disease that it can lead to, although much less frequently today than it did back then because of advances in HIV drug treatment, which Sheen himself has reportedly started. Read more via The Daily Beast