COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - People are reacting after actor Charlie Sheen's announcement Tuesday that he is HIV positive.
Sheen told NBC's Matt Lauer that he hopes speaking out will help others struggling with the stigma and health implications of the disease. South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council Executive Director Dr. Bambi Gaddist told WIS she hopes that Sheen's announcement brings increased awareness across the country, and in South Carolina.
"We're talking about a person of great notoriety who no one in a million years would think would be at risk for HIV, even though those of us that work in the field know we're all at risk," Dr. Gaddist said.
According to the council, southern states have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases are in the South, and in some southern states, African Americans account for more than eighty percent of new HIV diagnoses. Dr. Gaddist said the fact that it took Sheen four years to come clean about his diagnosis shows the stigma still attached to the disease.
"The fact that he was so concerned about the impact of his status on his career, and more importantly the people that would think to take this health diagnosis and turn it into something really so ugly so that they could gain financially from it, really speaks to their understanding of this country's perceptions around HIV," she said.
The SC HIV/AIDS council is gearing up for a World Aids Day concert featuring singer/songwriter Avery Sunshine on December 3rd. It will be held at 701 Whaley in Columbia. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.
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