St Albans HIV support group chief slams media over Charlie Sheen coverage

Former

Former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen, right, is interviewed by Matt Lauer, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 on NBC's "Today" in New York. In the interview, the 50-year-old Sheen said he tested positive four years ago for the virus that causes AIDS. (Peter Kramer/NBC via AP)

The head of an HIV support charity has described the media circus surrounding the revelation that Charlie Sheen is suffering from the virus as "absolutely atrocious".

Iain Murtagh, who is the head of operations for the St Albans-based charity The Crescent, said that articles which appeared in parts of the media last week in the run up to the Hollywood star’s announcement had “done a great deal of damage”.

He said: “This is nobody’s business but his own. It’s like being back in the horrible times of the 80s.”

The Sun newspaper reported last week (11) that a ‘womanising actor’ with HIV had sent Hollywood into a ‘panic’. Sheen later appeared on American TV in order to put an end to the speculation.

The Crescent, which operates out of a site on Russell Avenue, St Albans, has been providing confidential testing and support for people worried about or living with HIV for 30 years.

But Iain says that the Sun’s sensationalist reporting will fuel the decades-old stigma around the disease and may, ultimately, cause more suffering.

He explained: “Most people are scared of testing; they’re scared of people finding out. But it’s a very simple procedure. We would encourage anybody to come and see us completely free and confidential. They can come and see us on the premises or take advantage of our postal service.

“If more people became tested it would normalise it and reduce the stigma around it - and save lives.”

Herts county council withdrew funding from the Crescent in 2011 - since which time it has been solely reliant on donations from the public. For more information on the Crescent, visit thecrescent.org.uk where you will also find the facility to donate.

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