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Health

Author of the Sun’s Hollywood ‘HIV PANIC’ article was patron of LGBT helpline

Joseph McCormick November 13, 2015

The author of an article in the Sun which speculated on the HIV status of an unnamed celebrity was previously the patron of an LGBT helpline.

The paper published the front page on Wednesday, titled “HOLLYWOOD HIV PANIC” which states: “A-list actor’s virus diagnosis rocks showbiz…. Womanising star has string of ex-lovers.”

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Authored by Dan Wootton, the article described the person as a “superstar” and the Sun wrote that it was “choosing not to name” him.

It speculated on the man’s sexual partners, and said his lawyers were preparing themselves for a “raft of potential legal claims”.

In addition, the article referred to Hollywood actor Rock Hudson as a “virus victim”.

Since the article was heavily criticised by LGBT and HIV charities, and it surfaced that Wootton was a patron of the LGBT Switchboard.

A campaign was started to have him removed as a patron, but the charity has swiftly moved to distance itself from the controversy.

A statement released by the Helpline charity reads: “Switchboard brought Dan Wootton on as a Patron during our re-brand in June 2015 to provide media support.

“Following the re-brand we mutually agreed to end our relationship and Dan has had no involvement with Switchboard since that time.”

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Terrence Higgins Trust Executive Director, External Affairs, Shaun Griffin, told the Huffington Post: “At its best this is irresponsible journalism, at its worst an insidious headline grab. It is impossible to comment on the details here because there aren’t any.

“However we can counter the lack of veracity with fact. The fact is that for anyone diagnosed with HIV, they are given treatment that reduces the amount of HIV virus to an “undetectable” amount and this means HIV cannot be passed on.

“The fact is that it is utterly wrong to disclose an individuals HIV status without their permission – though what we are provided with enough information here to effectively identify them.”

He went on: “Even with the advances made in HIV testing and treatment, this shows that unfounded prejudices still remain. It is attitudes like these that perpetuate HIV stigma.

“Stigma is a dangerous construct and we’ve seen that it has a damaging effect on individuals and on public health. It can deter people from accessing testing or treatment, and can isolate a person living with HIV causing anxiety or depression.”

More: Dan Wootton, lgbt switchboard, The Sun

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