On the June 22 broadcast of ABC's The View, co-host Sherri Shepherd and guest-host D.L. Hughley advanced what the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has called "dangerous myths about African American gay and bisexual men." As GLAAD noted following the broadcast:
While discussing the FDA's ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood, 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.
Here are excerpts from a transcript of the segment:Hughley: When you look at the prevalence of HIV in the African American Community, it's primarily young women who are getting it from men who are on the down low. That's the thing.
Shepherd: The down low is black men who've been going out. They are having sex with men and they're not telling their girlfriends or their wives that they're gay and their husbands, as well. And it's very prevalent with African American women because they come home and have sex with their wives or their girlfriends. And they're not telling them that they're gay.
Shepherd: It's so big in the Black community with women because they're having unprotected sex with men who have been having sex with... with men.
As GLAAD points out, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has "debunked the dangerous myth." Noting that "Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the [CDC]'s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention talked about his research to NNPA News in October 2009. Fenton said that the CDC 'has looked to see what proportion of [HIV] infections is coming from male partners who are bisexual and found there are actually relatively few,' and goes on to attribute most infections to other factors."
Thus far, GLAAD has been unsuccessful in its efforts to get a retraction from The View which led to the organiztion partnering with the Black AIDS Institute and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to run a full-page ad in Variety this week:
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."