Journalist fired for publishing false information about HIV

A journalist at CBS in New York has been fired after the revealed the HIV status of a man without his permission and published false information about how the virus can be spread.

In early December the company published a story and several social media posts that claimed a man who had allegedly spat at a Port Authority officer had “known” he had HIV and had put the officer at risk of contracting the virus.

Alarm was raised over the report because it is illegal in New York to reveal the HIV status of a person without their permission. The news site published both the man’s name and the allegation he knew he was HIV positive. HIV rights advocates also highlighted the falsehood that HIV can be spread by saliva.

The news company has know confirmed that the story was published by a team member without it being properly approved by editors. In their social media posts the incident had been described as a “HIV attack”.

This online story should not have been published,” CBS New York told local LGBTI publisher Gay City News“It does not meet our journalistic standards, nor does it reflect our core values. The person who wrote and published the story and social media post failed to review the copy with our news managers. This individual is no longer employed by CBS New York.”

HIV advocates have also raised concern about comments made by the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association (PAPBA). In an interview with Gay City News, a spokesperson for the PAPBA described HIV as an infectious disease that could be used as a weapon.

“The problem is when a person with an infectious disease has a weapon, we have a problem with that,” PAPBA public information officer Bob Egbert said. “A guy who knowingly has an infectious disease — that’s a problem.”

His comments have been condemned by LGBTI rights advocates and health experts and increasing stigma around people living with HIV.

OIP Staff

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