Yesterday, however, TMZ has leaked, as only they can, the news that at least one of the contestants was HIV+ and that this would become a plot point during the course of the show.
My brain flashes back to Pedro Zamora, the HIV+ cast member of MTV's first season of "The Real World." By 1994, there had already been 18 television shows or movies that had at least one HIV+ character, but Pedro was real. He wasn't a character, he was a person, and that was new to us. But it's now 2016. By Wikipedia's count, there have been 38 television shows or movies featuring characters with HIV (and in some cases, multiple characters.) The course of the epidemic has changed, and with it, so has the way many of us talk about it.
You're right when you say, "Witti, you live in New York City, you work for an HIV Services Organization, you live in a bubble," but I will still put the challenge out there to the producers of "Finding Prince Charming." Do NOT sensationalize this. It's a group of fourteen gay men. Odds are that at least one of them would be HIV+, but this isn't the time to go, "OH MY GOD!" It's the time to say, "Yes, and he's treatment adherent, has an undetectable viral load and a longer life expectancy than those two in the corner with the martinis." It's also a chance to say, "Have you heard about PrEP?" Disclosing his status in pursuit of a romantic/sexual partner is absolutely appropriate, but the mere fact of an unsensational disclosure would be groundbreaking.
But then there are comments like this one from the star himself: "For me, it's like: Is someone HIV-positive not worthy of love?" said Robert Sepúlveda Jr., 33. "That's really the question, and it doesn't matter to me. 'Prince Charming' would be accepting of anyone, and that's how I am." How generous.
It's 2016, and people living with HIV deserve better than to be stigmatized and used as "gotcha!" drama on a reality show. Let's hope that the producers at LogoTV, which was originally for an LGBTQ audience, will recognize that and handle the issue sincerely will handle the issue sincerely and with the sensitivity and nuance it deserves.
And are you on PrEP?