Dakota Basinger was in the middle of a basketball game Sunday -- just a few minutes into the second half -- when the ref blew a whistle. The official timeout had nothing to do with the game and everything to do Basinger's personal medical status.
The 21-year-old Florida man, who plays in a recreational league that's sponsored by the city of Kissimmee, says a city employee took him into a back room and inquired about his HIV-status, Fox 35 News reports.
"He said, 'I know this is a personal question, but are you HIV positive?'" Basinger told the news outlet. "I said, 'Yeah, why?' He said something about a lawsuit could be brought against them, or something about that, and he basically said I wasn't allowed to play the rest of the season."
Basinger, who was not allowed back on the court, said he was "humiliated." But after word got out of the suspension, a city spokesperson said the employee had acted independently and without approval from his supervisor -- and that Basinger would be allowed to play once again, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Stigma attached to people living with HIV has persisted long after the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, and has far-reaching ramifications well beyond the hardwood.
"The stigma associated with HIV remains extremely high," a 2010 report highlighted in the New York Times stated. The report was part of the Obama administration's national strategy to combat the AIDS epidemic. "People living with HIV may still face discrimination in many areas of life, including employment, housing, provision of health care services and access to public accommodations."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV cannot be spread through "day-to-day contact in the workplace, schools or social settings." It also cannot be spread through saliva, tears or sweat, which makes concern for the health of Basinger's fellow basketball players unfounded, to say the least.
"He's going through a lot, having just been diagnosed," Lisa Basinger, Dakota's mother, told the Orlando Sentinel. "My wish is that everybody would become educated about the facts and myths of HIV."