When you're deeply entrenched in LGBT issues in can be easy to forget how much ignorance and bigotry there still is in mainstream pop culture—especially around HIV/AIDS.
We saw it when Charlie Sheen shared his HIV status on the Today show, and we're seeing it again after the tragic death of Prince.
This week, the National Enquirer is running a cover story purporting to recount the Purple One's "agonizing final days after AIDS diagnosis" and claiming he "refused medical treatment, believing he could be cured by prayer!"
The story also alleges Prince was "diagnosed with AIDS" just six months before his death.
It's not that the Enquirer is speculating about his death that's so disheartening. It's the misinformation being foisted on readers—many of whose understanding abobut HIV/AIDS came to a standstill sometime around 1993.
Close friends of Prince have revealed to ENQUIRER reporters the tragic inside story of the “Purple Rain” singer’s desperate fight for life.
The ENQUIRER’s bombshell coverage includes tragic details about the troubling personal decisions that ultimately cost Prince his life at the age of 57!
Sure, you could say what do we expect from the Enquirer, but the lines between tabloid and legit news source are continually blurred. (The Enquirer, after all, was in the running for a Pulitzer(!) for breaking the story of John Edwards' infidelity.)
For all we know, Prince did from an AIDS-related illness. Or from an overdose of painkillers. Or slipping on a bar of soap.
But using panicky headlines and lurid speculation to paint the virus as a death sentence, and those who are positive as objects of pity, doesn't just hurt the image of the Purple One. It threatens all those living (and thriving) with HIV/AIDS.