GOP reps balk at ''Sesame'''s HIV-positive Muppet. Six Republican congressmen express concern over the possibility that the AIDS-infected character, to be introduced on South Africa's version of ''Sesame Street,'' might be exposed to U.S. tots as well

”Sesame Street”’s new HIV-positive Muppet doesn’t yet have a name or a design, and there’s no indication yet that she’ll appear anywhere but the South African version of the show, but already, six Republican Congressmen are trying to keep her out of the United States, lest she come into contact with American youngsters who watch the popular PBS program, Variety reports.

Republican Representatives and House Commerce Committee members W.J. ”Billy” Tauzin of Louisiana, Joe Barton of Texas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Charles ”Chip” Pickering of Mississippi, Cliff Stearns of Florida, and Fred Upton of Michican wrote a letter over the weekend to PBS president Pat Mitchell, warning that ”only age and culturally appropriate programs” should appear on the channel, that ”Sesame Street” producers say their show is most popular among 2- to 4-year-olds, and that the Commerce Committee holds PBS’ purse strings.

”Sesame” producers announced the new Muppet last week at the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, noting that as many as one in nine South Africans are infected with AIDS. They have said that the new character will not be used to discuss sexuality.

Still, the letter writers wanted to know the amount of money PBS dedicates to ”Sesame Street,” whether any funds specifically are earmarked for the new Muppet, if there are any plans to introduce the Muppet in the U.S., and what decision-making role (if any) corporate underwriters might play. They’ve given Mitchell until Friday to answer such questions.

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