Tyler Perry disappointed several critics and supporters alike with his depiction of HIV in his film, “Temptation,” including many in the HIV community. In the film, the main character Judith was seemingly “punished” for adultery and straying from the teachings of the church when she learned she contracted HIV from her lover. At the close of the movie, it appeared that she aged significantly faster than her husband (so much so an older actor plays her only a few years later) and she’s shown limping alone down the road to church.

The Positive Women’s Network of the United States of America is speaking out against Perry’s portrayal of the disease as punishment for sins and as a life sentence of loneliness and misery.

They demand that he cease stigmatizing people with HIV in a poignant open letter.

See an excerpt below:

Dear Mr. Perry,

We write as people living with HIV and their allies to express our deep disappointment with your latest film, Temptation. This disappointment is made all the greater because you have done much that can be applauded. Audiences see your plays and films not simply as entertainment, but as opportunities for inspiration, spiritual healing, and unity.

As you may be aware, one of the greatest barriers to addressing the HIV epidemic is the high level of stigma and misinformation attached to this simple virus. Stigma prevents people from getting tested for HIV, from protecting themselves during sex, from accessing care when they test positive, and from disclosing their HIV status to family, friends, and sexual partners. Myths and outdated perceptions about how HIV is transmitted and the implications of an HIV diagnosis have resulted in discriminatory treatment towards, and violence against, people living with HIV.

Unfortunately, Temptation can only serve to perpetuate stigma. Your film depicts people with HIV as untouchable and unlovable, doomed to a lifetime of loneliness, and unable to tell their own stories. It implies that men with HIV are sexually irresponsible and predatory. And the final image — that of a woman who has been infected with HIV due to an extramarital affair walking away alone and unhealthy — sends the message that HIV is a punishment for immoral behavior.

Mr. Perry, as a leader in the African-American community, is this really the message you want to send in 2013, over three decades into this epidemic? Your impact on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in the community is not insignificant. And if you portray people with HIV as sinful, secretive monsters, unworthy of love and incapable of reproduction, what incentive do people have to learn their HIV status or for people with HIV to disclose their status?



Read more of the letter here.

What do you think of their letter to Tyler Perry? Do you find his depiction of HIV problematic? Discuss.

  • jay cee

    Perry can learn too.

  • MimiLuvs

    “…Mr. Perry, as a leader in the African-American community, is this really the message you want to send in 2013, over three decades into this epidemic?”

    “Leader of the African-American community”?

  • Carefree

    My sentiments exactly.

  • sixfoota


    Let’s not play coy – while he may not be a leader in the traditional sense of the word, he is a prominent & influential figure in the black community. Even those of us who don’t watch his movies will read articles about him &/or critique his films through word-of-mouth. He has a platform to educate & inform & he’s not utilizing it.

  • Sasha

    Why is with these open letters, are these a “thing” now?

  • kenzy

    im not being sarcastic or facetious but why are they doing this now? its been a few months already since that movie was released and alot of attention was on it. Its long since died down int this 24 hour schedule we have so what was the wait about?

  • http://gravatar.com/jjbrooks QB

    Other than the lack of an excellent costume designer and editing manager..what was wrong with his story line? It was an idea that can happen and i’m sure has happened. He chose to bring this particular side of HIV to the forefront. I’m sorry, but for me who has cried with my bestfriend after she cheated on her man and caught chlamydia which could have easily been HIV, I do not care for those who judge just because they can.

    Many are sensitive and mad at a man whose job is to entertain and bring stories to life. The HIV scenario in For Colored Girls…, was of course dramatic for showbiz but also TRUE. Research how many women have contracted HIV because their man has stepped out on them. He showcased two different scenarios out of many. Stop bashing this man because he didn’t tell YOUR story. Become a director, senator, teacher and tell your story and maybe just maybe we won’t be as harsh when we critique you.

  • Lynne

    Tyler Perry has said he doesn’t really care about good filmmaking. He says he’s much more concerned with teaching religious and moral truths through his films than contributing to the art form. His priorities are obvious.

    While I do have a problem with the way Perry stigmatizes HIV, maybe that’s what his fans need. Let’s be honest: Many of his fans are not the most sophisticated people intellectually speaking. They tend to be members of the “flat-earth society.” They want films that support their very black and white worldview that includes good vs. evil in a religious context.

    If a film from a hack like Perry is what it takes to get some people to make wise decisions in their lives, so be it.

  • http://none linda monroe-lewis

    This comes as a surprise concerning mr perrry he is a talented black leader in the afercian amerciam commmnity it is my understanding that he is involved in a independent investigation or research looking into disapperance of black men in a flordia town however his views on hiv is outrageous insensitive non compliance.

  • http://none linda monroe-lewis ( independent political consulant)

    i also may add that iam not a hiv person however mr perrry should be more sensitive on this subject.

  • http://www.facebook.com/taylor.s.simmons Taylor Pandillas Simmons

    this letter was actually published around the time the movie came out, Clutch is just late on reporting it.

  • Kaeli

    I agree. I don’t the issue is that these women got HIV. Both scenarios are real and possible and given the statistics black women need toe more aware. My major issue with the Temptation storyline is the fact that once these women contracted HIV they were unable to live full lives. I am not talking about having a romantic partner but about an inability to accomplish their goals or advance in life. In that aspect he truly needs to do better.

  • AmNicole

    neither am I PLWH/A but i was highly offended by Perry’s film temptation. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, people don’t have to live the lonely & sad lives Perry portrayed. Also one does not always contract the virus by dealing with “sinful” people or doing “devilish” things. Its sad that we are more than 30 years into this epidemic, and powerful ppl like Perry and still ignorant. Homegirl could have easily contracted hepatitis from ole’ man she slept with, but of course that wasn’t “sinful” enough huh Perry??

  • ….

    But the main character did accomplish her goal in life…she became a marriage counselor

  • Joy

    QB: Thanks. You brought it straight to the point. I don’t think a lot of people realize how many (black) women in particular have been affected by aids. (Sometimes) (Some) people just don’t want to hear the truth

  • Joy

    It may no longer be a death sentence; but I applaud Perry for keeping the message in the forefront. I’m not saying that we need to be constantly hit over the head with the message; but from time to time it’s definitely a message we need to hear. Perhaps it will remind someone not to let down their guard

  • Joy

    Mimi: Uuuuuuh! But it’s still an epidemic. And yes it’s still a message that plays well in 2013, and years to come. Things of this nature should always be taken seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ibifubara.ekine Salvatoresia Ekine

    Exactly and beautifully noted.

  • Bruh

    It was a movie, not a documentary. GROW THE HELL UP!!!! It no more spoke of and for all those with HIV, than a Godzilla movie speaks for all Asians.

  • Lamont McCraney

    He is the creator of the film. He is allowed to tell the story he wants to tell. I find it repulsive but it is still his creation and I have no right to edit his story. As far as his responsibility to the community…. Yeah whatever. Folks have really got to stop looking to these so called Hollywood “role models” for cues on what it means to be…fill in the blank. You are the captain of your ship. Take responsibility for your life. It is yours. Not Tyler’s, not your pastors. Yours.

  • Iamonlyme

    Wasn’t the HIV/AIDS issue introduced in his movie, For Colored Girls? I do not understand why it is such a big issue in THIS film. Is it because the woman went outside of her marriage for “comfort” and contract the virus as opposed to For Colored Girls, Janet contracted the disease from her ‘down low’ husband?

    As long as people keep trying sugar coat what is really happening people will be left in the dark. It seems like society is so oversexed that we fail to remember there are consequences for our actions.

  • AmNicole

    he didnt write for colored girls he only directed and produced it

  • iamonlyme

    Producers have the capability to change movies if it is going in the way the envision. Who’s to say that he didn’t have the write make changes to the original script.

  • iamonlyme

    Oh and he did write the screenplay. Its based off a 1975 stage play written by Ntozake Shange.


  • curiousLA

    i don’t think it was a matter of him telling a story dealing with HIV that was found offensive, it was the underlying morality tale associated with that telling. in the open letter many of these oppositions are expressed, quite eloquently, so there is no need for me to rehash them here. and for the record, there have been many films to include documentaries made that address HIV/AIDS in the black community – they’re just not movies black folk are watching.

  • shanta smith

    I feel it should be cure for HIV.

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