Justine Sacco, the PR exec who was fired Saturday for her Twitter comments about AIDS in Africa during a flight to the country, apologized for her "needless and careless tweet."
Sacco apologized in a written statement to South African media, "There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.
"For being insensitive to this crisis -- which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly -- and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed."
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Sacco's statement goes on to say that she was born in South Africa and cherishes her ties and frequent visits to the country.
"I am very sorry for the pain I caused," she wrote.
Before Sacco left Friday for Cape Town, South Africa, she tweeted, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" Her tweet went viral, causing the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet to trend throughout the weekend.
IAC, a New York-based media and internet company, distanced itself from the tweet and announced Saturday that it had "parted ways" with Sacco, who was the head of corporate communications for the company. IAC is run by Barry Diller and operates websites such as The Daily Beast, CollegeHumor and Match.com.
"The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC. We take this issue very seriously, and we have parted ways with the employee in question," company spokesman Ryan Trostle said in a statement. "There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally. We hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core."