Eurovision winner and Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst has announced that she is HIV-positive, after an ex-boyfriend allegedly threatened to out her.
Wurst posted on Instagram saying that she had “been HIV positive for many years,” but came out to take away her former boyfriend’s power.
“[My status] is actually irrelevant to the public, but an ex-boyfriend is threatening to go public with this private information, and I will not give anyone the right to frighten me or affect my life,” she wrote.
Wurst won the international singing competition Eurovision in 2014, competing in drag with a full beard, with her song “Rise Like a Phoenix” claiming the title for Austria.
In her post, Wurst noted that, after years of treatment, she is now undetectable.
“Since I received the diagnosis, I have been in medical treatment, and for many years without interruption I have been below the detection limit, which means I am unable to transmit the virus,” she wrote.
The singer noted that she had not previously gone public with her status for many reasons. While she said her family has supported her “unconditionally since day one,” she did not want to bring them any attention for having an HIV-positive relative. She also believed that her status was only relevant to those she was having sex with.
Despite the nature in which she had to disclose her status, Wurst hopes to help end the stigma against those living with the virus.
“I hope to build up courage and take another step against the stigmatization of people who have become infected by HIV, either through their own behavior or through no fault of their own,” she said. “To my fans: the information about my HIV status may be new to you — my status is not! I’m well and well, and I’m stronger, more motivated and liberated than ever. Thank you for your support!”
Sexual health advocates have praised Wurst for sharing her story about her HIV status.
Ian Green, chief executive of sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said in a statement that “the decision to talk openly about your HIV status should be a personal one and not taken away” and Wurst’s story shows the labeling of HIV positive individuals needs to end.
“Despite all the medical advances we’ve made in the fight against HIV, in treatment and in testing, Conchita’s Instagram post highlights how much more we have to do to tackle the abhorrent stigma which still surrounds the virus.” Green said. “We applaud Conchita for handling this with such dignity and including in her post that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment, like her, can’t pass the virus on.”
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