Wrong again, Jenny McCarthy: First it was vaccines and autism, now it's HIV

The actress, who worked with Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men," goes on a strange rant about the virus

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published November 19, 2015 7:29PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Danny Moloshok)
(Reuters/Danny Moloshok)

Brace yourselves everybody. You might want to sit down. It turns out Jenny McCarthy has a pretty weak grasp on medical information. The shocker this time is that it's not about vaccines, but HIV.

The controversial actress and satellite radio personality has been best known in more recent years as a self-appointed "mother warrior" on a dubious search for a link between autism and vaccination. You remember McCarthy — a woman who has said, "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f_cking measles," one who's insisted, "The reason why the medical community doesn't support is because us moms aren't treating autism, we are treating a vaccine injury."

A woman whose medical credentials include hosting "Singled Out," and whose argument that "The idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism's 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling of the US vaccine schedule" is, in fact, crackpot.

Earlier this year, the Journal of American Medicine found "no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] even among children already at higher risk for ASD." The American Academy of Pediatrics affirms "There is no definite, scientific proof that any vaccine or combination of vaccines can cause autism." 

Now, in light of Charlie Sheen's revelation earlier this week that he is HIV positive, McCarthy had some thoughts to share on her "Dirty, Sexy, Funny" SiriusXM radio show on Wednesday. Several years ago, McCarthy appeared on eight episodes of Sheen's sitcom "Two and a Half Men" as his romantic interest. And now, she's grossed out about that.

"Before we do a job," she told listeners, "we have to sign a piece of paper that says, 'Do you have cold sores?' You have to sign a release that says, 'Yes I have cold sores;' you need show the medication…. Now, being on 'Two and a Half Men' myself, and being on the show and playing a love interest, you would think that there would be some type of… I don't want to say, not criminal issue, but, I don't even know how to feel about that. I'm like, wait a second, if I have to be up front about a herpe, how could you not be up front about HIV? I look back and I'm like, OK, that would have been some valuable information."

She went to add, "Look how many people have played his love interest on the show. Not that you can, obviously, get it through kissing, but still, that's a big deal. Every person I've ever slept with, I have like, paperwork, I made everyone get an HIV test because I'm STD-phobic just because of all the stuff I went through with [my son] Evan's health… Playing his love interest on the show, back in the day, I go, 'Ick! That's not fair. It's scary.' I have sympathy for him because, you know, he's sick and it's awful, but man, he's going to have to take some major accountability with many people in his life."

Sheen's manager quickly issued a statement to say that "Charlie was infected long after he left 'Two and a Half Men' and long after he worked with Jenny." Also, as McCarthy herself seems to understand, you don't get HIV from normal kissing.

Here's a statement from the US Department of Health and Human services: "HIV is not spread through saliva. Transmission through kissing alone is extremely rare."

There are conflicting accounts of whether Sheen ever had unprotected sex without disclosing it to his partners. He says he was always forthright; former partner Bree Olson says he "never" admitted his status. But how Sheen conducted himself in his private life is different from how he did or should have in his professional one. And if McCarthy wants paperwork from everyone she's ever slept with, that's different from requiring it from everyone she's ever kissed on the job.

"How could you not be upfront about HIV?" she asks. Because it wasn't any of your business? Because maybe you would have said paranoid and shaming things in public about it? And by the way, people who are HIV positive are not automatically "sick." That's not how carrying a virus in your body works. But you've got to give it to McCarthy — what she doesn't know about health and science continues to be as impressive as her willingness to share her ignorance.

Watch our compilation of some of McCarthy's most controversial statements:
[jwplayer file="http://media.salon.com/2015/11/JennyMcCarthy.Asha_.11202015.mp4" image="http://media.salon.com/2015/11/jenny_mccarthy.jpg"][/jwplayer]

Jenny McCarthy Bashes Charlie Sheen

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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