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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Comic recruits superhero with HIV
Mia becomes crime-fighter Speedy after finding she is HIV positive
A superhero with HIV has joined the long-running Green Arrow comic, the first major comic book series to deal with the virus.

Mia is a teenage runaway who discovers she contracted HIV during time spent as a homeless prostitute.

The DC Comics character adopts the name Speedy and becomes a crime-fighter.

"Mia is coming to terms with it in the way most young people are," said writer Judd Winick. "Young people, for good or for bad, are still pretty fearless."

Life focus

Published in the US on Wednesday, the latest issue of Green Arrow shows Mia becoming the lead character's sidekick after discovering she is HIV positive.

"It's not as a death wish, but she can't fool around anymore," said Winick.

She seems to be unafraid of death, she's mostly feeling like no-one is ever going to love her
Writer Judd Winick
"This isn't about an abbreviated life span. It is about life having focus."

Winick said he wanted to approach HIV from the point of view of other young people.

"It isn't about death and dying," he said. "With drug combination therapy people are living a very long time.

"She seems to be unafraid of death, she's mostly feeling like no-one is ever going to love her."

Avoids metaphor

As Speedy, she will later join the Teen Titans comic book series alongside Batman's sidekick Robin, Cyborg and Raven.

Independent comic publisher Image introduced ShadowHawk, the first superhero with Aids, in 1993 but Speedy is the first HIV positive hero to appear in a major comic book series.

"Comics have a long history of telling lessons," Winick added.

"They tell stories through metaphor, but sometimes I feel we don't need the metaphor. Why should it be that Mia contracts some alien virus?"

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