I don’t know if you have heard about this, but this story has been going viral for the last two weeks. Former child star of the show “Who’s the Boss” publicly disclosed that he has been HIV positive for the last 12 years to Oprah in her show “Where are they now?”
As with all HIV disclosures from public figures, the story went viral and soon there were people saying that Danny was lying about how he acquired the illness because he had explained that he got infected through oral sex. Acquiring HIV through oral sex is rare but is known to occur especially if the mucus membranes in the mouth are compromised.
In actuality, Danny publicly disclosed two things, one that he is HIV positive and secondly that he was a former crystal meth user. Judging him will not change the fact that he is still HIV positive. However, it is a learning opportunity for us all about using protection during sex and avoiding the use of recreational drugs. Danny has now become an advocate for the illness and has been on many national TV shows talking about his illness, how it came about, providing views about unprotected sex, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, and treatment of HIV. Here are some of his interviews:
Regardless of the controversies of how the interviewers or Danny have handled themselves during this public HIV disclosure, the questions that have been asked in these interviews, and the level of details that have been revealed in the interviews, I am happy that there is now a national dialogue happening about HIV, unprotected sex, and recreational drug use.
We need our teenagers and youth to hear this information. They did not see the devastation caused by this illness in the 80s and 90s but we did. Complacency about drug use and unprotected sex is high; we do not want to see a rebound in the number of infected persons, especially among our teenagers and youth. We are after all striving for an “AIDS Free Generation.” We must continue to advocate for the use of protection during sex, avoiding the use of recreational drugs, and prevention of stigma and discrimination of HIV-positive persons.
We need more famous people like Danny, and other people from all walks of life to step up or increase their efforts in raising awareness of the illness. There hasn’t been this much of a national dialogue on HIV for a long time in the US. I can only wish Danny good luck in his planned national Beacon of Light Tour. I am happy to see him teaming up with national AIDS service organizations to take his advocacy to the next level.