Today, being diagnosed as HIV-positive is no longer the death sentence it once was. Although there is currently no cure, there are a variety of drugs that can be used in combination to help control the virus. Most importantly, we now know that the only way you can become infected with HIV is during sexual intercourse, through blood transfusions, sharing needles, or from mother to child. Still, even with this all this information, last Sunday, a young man was thrown out of a Florida recreational basketball game by a city official for no reason other than being HIV-positive.
It was only last week that 21-year-old Dakota Basinger found out he was HIV-positive. Then on Sunday, the aspiring rapper was told he could no longer play basketball in the city league. The NY Daily News reports that during the second half of the game, a referee blew his whistle and called for a timeout. The referee then pulled Basinger aside and asked him if he was HIV-positive. When Basinger answered that he was, the city employee pulled the young man out of the game and informed him that he was no longer allowed to participate in any more Kissimmee city games. “I feel humiliated and discriminated against,” Basinger explained to the Orlando Sentinel. “I felt horrible walking out of that gym." The City of Kissimmee announced that they disapproved of the actions of their employee, who acted without prompting from the city. “The city has taken corrective action to ensure this does not happen in the future,” Arin Thrower, Kissimmee spokesperson, told the Sentinel.
Saliva and sweat do not transmit HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue, or be directly injected into the bloodstream from a needle for the transmission to possibly occur,” the CDC states on its website. Contact between broken skin, wounds, or HIV-infected blood may also spread the virus, but such reports are extremely rare.
The young man posted about his HIV diagnosis via Facebook. This incident may remind us of Magic Johnson’s retirement from basketball in 1991 after he learned of his HIV diagnosis. Many players objected to sharing a court with the NBA star, and Johnson chose to retire. Today, however, Basinger’s teammates do not seem as bothered by his diagnosis as Johnson’s were in the past. “You can’t catch HIV by playing ball. It’s not contagious that way,” Gustavo Delamaza, Basinger’s teammate, told the Sentinel.