Did she get it from Grover? We may never find out. Despite a rumor that launched a week-long media Mup-roar in July, an HIV positive Muppet new to South Africa’s Takalani Sesame will not be debuting on the show’s U.S. counterpart this season. But PBS head Pat Mitchell would not permanently rule out telling the Muppet how to get to Sesame Street, despite Oscar-caliber GOP grouches flexing their public-TV-funding muscles in a letter to PBS, tsk-tsking that “what may be fitting for viewers...in South Africa...may not be...for children in the U.S.”

HIV positive parents in the U.S., such as Pamela Curry of Dallas, Texas, called the move nothing but an “attempt at tactical, strong arm censorship” -- after all, the 5-year-old female Muppet won’t be opening a needle exchange or playing with any rubbers other than ducky. “I’ve known kids that have lost parents...and kids ask questions,” Curry said. “By hiding it, they’re only going to keep the stigma of the disease going.” The signers, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, did not return POZ’s calls. But a rep for Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) conceded that he did not know whether his boss would be willing to be photographed hugging or kissing an HIV-infected Muppet.

In related cute-critter-with-HIV news, a recent episode of Showtime’s post-PC Queer Duck cartoon featured HIV Possum’s funeral: To Openly Gator’s “Why him?” La Duck snidely quacks, “Maybe because he was a condom-hating, intravenous drug user with a Haitian boyfriend.”

On neither brouhahas did Tinky Winky have comment.