Saturday, July 13, 2002
HIV+Muppets=good idea? A friend of mine sent me a short e-mail with a link to the Fox News story on how the South African version of Sesame Street plans to introduce a muppet who is HIV+ when the fall season starts up.
My first response was: ho-hum. If Sesame Street plays it like it says it will, that is no references to drugs or sexuality, I think its no big deal.
What people have to realize is that the demographics of HIV and AIDS are very different in Africa than they are in the United States. In the U.S., despite the propaganda, the vast majority of those infected are either homosexual or IV drug users. In Africa, it is a a disease that is rampant among the heterosexual community. The result is that you have many children in Africa who suffer from the disease. If this promotes tolerance for kids who have the disease, through no fault of their own, then that's fine.
However, any effort to put a similar muppet on Sesame Street here, would be misguided and wrong, for the very reason I outlined above. In the United States, very few children have HIV or AIDS -- or are likely to get it. To introduce a HIV+ muppet on American Sesame Street necessitates a discussion of its origins -- homosexuality and drug-use. That isn't something that young children need to be exposed to. That shouldn't happen.