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Amy's Letter to Barbara Walters

Why on earth would Ms. Behar choose to belittle such a large group of people in order to claim a comedic moment? Her comments on the subject of herpes and those who have contracted the virus are inexcusable. Her comments were not "off the cuff", so she has no excuse. Ms. Behar literally came to the table prepared to ridicule a person who had the moral courage to be up front about his herpes diagnosis in a public forum. What does that say about "The View" and its' producers that both are willing to encourage and further the social stigma associated with what essentially is a skin virus?

It is difficult enough for those who contract the HSV virus to come to terms with their diagnosis. Regardless of the actual physical pain that herpes brings, the social and emotional pain is often far greater and can last for months and years. Why? Because of the fear of that very same social stigma which Ms. Behar choose to perpetuate on "The View."

Did "The View" suddenly become a comedy show? I was under the impression that this talk show wanted to be taken seriously. I understand that Joy Behar is a comedian, but could she not have reigned herself in for an Emmy award-winning show that deals with serious topics of the day?

Having herpes is no joke, nor do those who have it deserve to be treated like "losers" or social cast-offs, yet by choosing to air Ms. Behar's purposefully hurtful comments, ABC is culpable of perpetuating an inaccurate stereotype, make no mistake about it.

I, like so many others signing this petition, contracted HSV from a partner I had every reason to love and trust. I did not choose to contract HSV and I was doing nothing socially or morally wrong  when I contracted the virus. To this day, I am not certain if he knew he had herpes and chose not to tell me for fear of rejection, or if he simply did not know until we were diagnosed. That was eight years ago, and I am now with a man who does not have HSV, but cares for me all the more because of my honesty. He knew early on in our relationship, before we even made love that I was a careful, trustworthy woman because I WAS up front about my herpes status from the beginning. Now, HSV is a non-issue with us, as it should be. Our focus, as it should be for anyone in love, is on each other and the relationship we are forming.

It took me a very long time, but I have overcome the ignorance associated with the herpes virus. While comments such as those aired on The View anger me, I no longer cringe. I choose to educate and help those who are newly diagnosed and devastated by what is essentially a social virus that chooses sexual activity as its transmission vehicle of choice. It is unfortunate that immediately before Valentine's Day, thousands of people DID cringe at the comments made by Ms. Behar, because they already felt the stigma she was pushing, alone in their unnecessary fear and shame, certain that they would continue to be without love -- all because of a skin disease.

Why is it that the virus that causes AIDS get such celebrity, while so many more people in this country have herpes? Both are transmitted in the same manner and neither has a cure at this time. It is terrible that one kills while the other does not, but consider for few moments of the pain that could be lifted if only we as a society -- and the media that speaks to it -- decided to educate rather than shame.

As a host and producer of the show, I do hope you take this opportunity to address the topic of herpes and the social stigma surrounding it. I've watched you for many years and admired your work. You can do this right, and in a positive manner. As you know, education is SO important.

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