Paul Sax is a big baseball fan and a longtime reader of mine. He’s also a doctor who writes a blog about HIV, infectious diseases and the medical and ethical issues that surround them. He has several sharp observations today in light of the Roberto Almoar HIV allegations. Among them:
For another stark example of how HIV differs from other serious
diseases (even those related to unhealthy choices), Hall of Famer Tony
Gwynn has just been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, likely due to chewing tobacco. The response? Mostly sympathy, very little blame or snark.
If the allegations of his wife are true and Alomar lied about or withheld information about his HIV status, he has certainly done something terribly wrong. But what if they’re not true? What if he does have HIV but he did not lie or mislead anyone about his status? What if, as seemed to be the case with last year’s lawsuit, someone is merely gunning for the guy?
If that’s the case, I’ll be curious to see how he is treated by the general public. Will he get the Gwynn treatment and be supported despite contracting what is typically an avoidable disease through — at worst — irresponsible behavior? Or will he be stigmatized?
I’d like to think we’ve come a long way regarding HIV and AIDS in the past 25 years. I fear we have not, however, and that if Alomar does have HIV, he’ll be treated like an outcast.