Texas College Student Candidate’s HIV Status Revealed to Public
A student at the University of Houston-Downtown who was running for the student body vice president was the victim of a smear campaign that revealed he was HIV-positive to the school's faculty and students.
HIV Plus reports that Kristopher Sharp, a junior, is openly HIV-positive but didn't expect his status to be plastered across campus - literally. Soon after Sharp and Isaac Valdez, who was running for president, submitted the proper documents to enter the race, someone posted fliers across the school that read, Want AIDS? Don't Support the Isaac and Kris Homosexual Agenda." The ad had a picture of Sharp with an "x" over him.
If that wasn't bad enough, the back of the flier showed Sharp's medical files that confirmed he is HIV-positive. He told the Houston Press that, even though he is open about his status, he was devastated by the fliers.
"There's a culture at UHD that is somewhat less accepting of LGBT youth, but something of this magnitude is completely mind-blowing. I knew, going into the election that I could possibly be targeted because of my sexuality -- but I had no idea that it would go to this level," he said. The person responsible for the fliers has not yet been caught, but Sharp thinks he knows who is behind the act. He told an Western Wisconsin ABC station WXOW that he was "shocked" that someone would do this to him.
A spokeswoman for the college said administrators have tried to remove the fliers from campus as quickly as they could. The school's newspaper says that local police may investigate the incident. Sharp says that he does not want to press charges, but would rather know why the person responsible did what they did. He also wants an apology.
The incident comes just days after the University of Houston Student Government Association unanimously voted to oppose State Rep. Bill Zelder's plan to cut off all state funds to LGBT centers at any of the state's many public universities.
This happened after Texas A&M University's student senate passed a measure that would allow students not to fund the school's LGBT center. After the student senate passed the bill by a narrow 35-28 vote, the president of the student body, John Claybrook,, vetoed the measure. He said it was time to "stop the bleeding" in a letter announcing the move.
Meanwhile, in Phoenix, an openly positive man who had been beaten because of his activism is running for City Council. Austin Head, who was featured in the documentary "Positive Youth," had been beaten unconscious by two brother spewing homophobic epithets.
Head, who is 28, was homeless in his late teens in New York City. He was diagnosed with HIV over five years ago. Head hopes to replace the first openly gay member of the Phoenix City Council, Tom Simplot.