Fla. Man Kicked Off Basketball Team Because He is HIV-Positive
A Florida man was booted from his local recreational basketball team after a city employee found out he is HIV-positive, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Dakota Basinger, 21, was on the Florida Dream Sports team, sponsored by the Florida city of Kissimmee, all season -- that is until a playoff game at Denn John Middle School that took place last Sunday.
Basinger told the newspaper a referee called time out and asked both teams to go to the benches. He said a city employee then called him into a room in the gym and asked him if he was HIV-positive.
Basinger, who just learned of his status a week ago and made a Facebook post about it, told the employee he was positive. The employee told him he would have to stop playing for the team.
"I feel humiliated and discriminated against," Basinger, told the Orlando Sentinel. "I felt horrible walking out of that gym."
It is unclear how the employee knew Basinger's HIV status.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Arin Thrower, a city spokeswoman said the part-time city employee "acted independently and without supervisor approval" when he kicked out Basingera.
"The city has taken corrective action to ensure this does not happen in the future," Thrower said. She added that Basinger will be allowed back on the team, however.
According to Click Orlando, Kissimmee officials said the employee, identified as Dale Boston, a part-time recreation leader with the city's Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities department, resigned from his position Thursday.
Boston was employed with the city for less than eight months and was not told by any city official to remove Basinger from the basketball team.
Basinger's mother, Lisa Basinger, was at the game last weekend when Boston removed her son.
"I couldn't believe it," she told the Orlando Sentinel. "I explained to them that they needed to educate themselves on HIV and that you cannot transmit HIV through spit or casual contact."
Click Orlando reports Lisa Basinger asked the employee if he is "educated on this."
"He said, 'No, but I'm doing this because the city of Kissimmee wants me to take him out of the game.' I said, 'Who is the city?' He didn't have an answer," she said. "It's ignorance, total ignorance. How can you be this ignorant in 2014? I mean, we're not back in the '80s. You cannot catch this from casual contact, from playing basketball, or sweat, or spit, or anything like that."
According to AIDS.gov, more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. have HIV. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk -- not through saliva and sweat. HIV is a viral infection that is the precursor to AIDS.
Basinger told the Orlando Sentinel that he contracted the virus by having unprotected sex with another man.
Gustavo Delamaza, 20, Basinger's teammate who was aware that Basinger is HIV positive, said Basinger's status "doesn't really bother me at all. You can't catch HIV by playing ball. It's not contagious that way."
Thrower said city supervisors called Dakota and Lisa Basinger and apologized for the incident, Click Orlando reports.
"They could apologize all they want but the humiliation I had to go through, I'm already going through enough being diagnosed a week ago," Dakota Basinger said.
The mother and son said they've contacted an attorney and are considering suing the city, promising the money won in a lawsuit would be donated to an HIV organization.
Dakota Basinger took to Facebook on April 15 to give thanks for the support he has received.
"I just wanna thank everyone who has been standing by my side through this and helping me bring awareness to the public about HIV," he wrote. "The facts and myths about it. I love you all and thank you again. Are journey is not over."
Check out Dakota Basinger's song "My Bestfriend" and his parody of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' same-sex jam "Same Love" below: