Former R.E.M. Star: I Skipped an HIV Test for Five Years for Fear of Reagan Internment Camps

Does anyone remember the Reagan-Bush internment camps after the discovery of the AIDS virus? No?

Rolling Stone reported that former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe declared at a taping of a show for Viacom’s Logo channel that he was afraid to get an HIV test in the 1980s for fear of the right-wing oppression that would result. He waited five years out of progressive paranoia.

"In the early Eighties, as a 22-year-old queer man living during the Reagan-Bush administration, I was afraid to get tested for HIV for fear of quarantine, the threat of internment camps and having my basic civil rights stripped away," he said.


"I waited five years to get my first anonymous test. I am happy that attitudes have matured and changed, and I feel lucky that I live in a country where acceptance, tolerance and policy toward HIV-AIDS and LGBTQ issues have advanced as far as they have."

A one-hour broadcast of Trailblazers will air on Logo on June 26th at 9 p.m. EST. Stipe honored Ugandan activist John Abadallah Wambere. The Logo event also  honored gay-marriage plaintiffs Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan, openly gay NBA player Jason Collins, and the cast of Orange Is the New Black. Former president Bill Clinton will also appear.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis