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NEW YORK -- Two days after the initial broadcast, GLAAD issued a "Call to Action" in response to a June 22 broadcast of ABC's "The View" in which host Sherri Shepherd and guest host D.L. Hughley perpetuated dangerous myths about African-American gay and bisexual men.
While discussing the FDA's ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood during the "Hot Topics" segment, Shepherd and Hughley communicated misinformation about the causes of increased HIV rates among African-American women and used the phrase "down low" to describe men who have sex with men but publicly identify as heterosexual.
Following the "Call to Action," thousands of LGBT people and allies have contacted "The View" demanding an on-air apology for these misrepresentations. GLAAD reiterated this demand nearly three weeks after the inaccurate comments were made in a full-page ad appearing in Variety on Monday, July 12, in partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition (NJC) and the Black AIDS Institute.
"ABC now knows that it put out dangerous and false information about HIV/AIDS on its airwaves, yet the network still refuses to take responsibility," said Rashad Robinson, GLAAD’s senior director of programs.
"ABC and 'The View’s' refusal to correct these inaccurate remarks comes at the expense of African-American gay and bisexual men, straight African- American women and millions of audience members who need facts about HIV/AIDS, not myths. It’s extremely disheartening to see a program that usually covers our community with respect, unwilling to correct this serious lapse in editorial judgment."
The ad reads in part, "On June 22, ABC’s 'The View' aired inaccurate information about HIV, blaming African-American gay and bisexual men for increased HIV rates among straight African-American women. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has publicly disproven this myth. And since June 22, thousands of people have written to ABC, asking that 'The View' provide correct information to viewers. Unfortunately, those requests have been greeted with silence from both ABC and 'The View.' "
In an interview with Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Dr. Fenton shares these staggering statistics afflicting the African-American community, particularly women:
At 61 percent, black women have an infection rate nearly 15 times higher than white women. Latina represent 17 percent of all new HIV cases among women. White women are only 15 percent. AIDS is the leading cause of death among black women between the ages of 25 and 34.
Although African-Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, blacks represent nearly 50 percent of all people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The black share of AIDS cases has jumped from 25 percent in 1985 to 49 percent in 2007. There are about 1.1 people in the United States living with HIV, more than 500,000 of them black.
Dr. Fenton also discusses the facts behind the statistics and clearly states that there are other issues for such a high increase that have nothing to do with African-American gay and bisexual myth. It is these facts that GLAAD, NJC and the Black AIDS Institute would like to see "The View" report.
The Variety ad concludes by saying:
"When 'The View' talks about these kinds of issues, people listen. And there’s a responsibility that comes with that. We want "The View" to do what it does at its best: Talk about the tough issues with a commitment to honesty, accuracy and fairness. We ask ABC and 'The View' to keep the conversation going by correcting the record and elevating voices that can provide accurate information about HIV/AIDS for African- American gay and bisexual men, African-American women, and all viewers."
Video clip from "The View" episode courtesy of Hulu.com
How to take action
Call on "The View" to issue an on-air apology and correct Sherri Shepherd and D.L. Hughley's misrepresentation of African American gay & bisexual men. This program reaches millions of viewers and ABC must ensure that its platforms are not used to perpetuate dangerous falsehoods that put our community in harm's way.
Brad Jamison, vice president, corporate initiatives
ABC Television Network
Julie Hoover, corporate communications vice president
ABC Television Network
Bill Geddie, executive producer
ABC "The View"
See more information on "The View’s" fact checking double standard at GLAAD Blog.
For more facts and information on HIV/AIDS, visit www.blackaids.org