Friday, October 15, 2010

Oprah Misses the Mark on HIV/AIDS

From the Huffington Post, by Kellee Terrell

Oprah Winfrey devoted the Oct. 7 episode of her talk show to HIV/AIDS. But instead of it being about anything substantial, eye-opening or educational, Oprah decided to focus on issues that distort the epidemic.

"Why She Sued Her Husband for 12 Million and Won" opened with beautiful, educated Bridget, who had met and married the love of her life. It was a fairytale-- until the day that, 10 years ago, she found out that she was HIV positive. Later, she learned that her husband was HIV positive, too. And that he had slept with men without using condoms. And that he was the one who had given her HIV. She later sued her husband for $12 million and won.

Yes, it's the "woman as innocent victim duped by the sinister gay down-low brother" narrative again.

To be clear, I don't want to belittle or devalue Bridget's experiences, because what happened to her is horrible. Putting your trust (and your health) in the hands of a spouse, only to be lied to and later diagnosed with HIV, is devastating. And I admit that it's hard to create and implement condom negotiation strategies geared for married women and women who believe they are in monogamous relationships.

But why does the down low continue to dominate most media stories about HIV in America, when study after study shows that closeted gay men having unprotected sex with both men and women is not fueling the epidemic?

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