On Wednesday evening, Matt Sparks was sworn in as a Commissioner of the City of Oakland Park.
The next morning, in a telephone call to SFGN, Sparks revealed his is HIV positive.
The 50-year-old flight attendant for American Airlines said he chose World AIDS Day to disclose his status in hopes of defeating stigma.
“There’s no look,” Sparks said. “Nobody can look at you and tell your HIV status.”
Sparks said he tested positive for the virus 14 years ago. He says he takes medication daily and has always kept his viral load undetectable.
As a new city commissioner, Sparks said he felt a duty to be open and honest with his constituents.
“If this helps one person live a clean life then I’m satisfied,” said Sparks.
It’s been an eventful few weeks for Sparks, who won election to the Oakland Park Commission in his first campaign for public office. Three seats were up for grabs with nine candidates competing. Sparks finished third, receiving 3,693 votes.
His first order of business was making the motion to approve a request from retail giant Walmart to begin operations in Oakland Park.
“I don’t want to waste taxpayer’s money in litigation,” Sparks said. “They have every legal right to do business in the city.”
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sparks lives in the corals neighborhood north of city hall. He is marrying his partner Scott Hindley on Dec. 15.