Jonathan Van Ness wants to end the stigma around HIV.
The ‘Queer Eye’ star has been battling the virus – which damages the cells in the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight everyday infections and disease – since he was 25, and has said that since going public with his diagnosis earlier this year, he’s found there’s “still so much misunderstanding” surrounding the condition.
He said: “This is only the beginning. I’m quickly realising that there is still so much misunderstanding, so much sensationalising of living with HIV. The stigma and the difficulty around the process of getting treatment is creating that. My work has only really just begun.”
Jonathan received backlash after his admission when a clip surfaced of him “cracking jokes” about HIV, but has said he never intended to offend anyone, and instead was trying to use comedy as a way to “soothe” himself from the devastating news of his diagnosis.
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It’s #worldaidsday 💗 Being able to write about my HIV status was hugely scary but even scarier is the continued lack of knowledge & understanding around HIV. Thank god for people like @jimmykimmellive who allowed me to come and talk about living with HIV, what undetectable = untransmitable means, and how important a role @plannedparenthood played in my journey to health & happiness. Take some time to educate yourself on what HIV+ people living in poverty have to go through to get treatment. Do you know what PREP is? Do you know the fastest growing group of newly infected HIV+ people are? The time for silence is over. #endhivstigma For the full interview- please head over to @jimmykimmellive YouTube channel 🏳️🌈
Speaking to the January issue of Cosmopolitan magazine – which hits newsstands on Thursday (05.12.19) – he explained: “Diane von Furstenberg says, ‘Knowledge sometimes is not facts, it’s context,’ and that’s true. Because if you only knew that one minute of that one video that you saw of me? I’d hate me too. I really would.
“If I saw the headlines of ‘Queer Eye star reveals devastating HIV diagnosis’ and then, two days later, you see this one-minute video of me cracking jokes about Ronald Reagan’s treatment of people living with HIV, I would hate me too.
“But they also don’t understand that I’m someone who is living with HIV; that that was the first press tour I’d ever done; that I’m also a comedian who makes jokes out of stuff because if I didn’t make jokes about it, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. I have always used comedy as a way to soothe myself and move forward.”
The 32-year-old star recently said his virus is under control, and he feels as though he’s “thriving”, despite his diagnosis.
He said: “So there’s a thing called a viral load and that’s how much copies of the virus is in you.
“And you take a pill every day and it basically kills all the copies of the virus in your blood and that means you can achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. There’s been a lot of studies … that basically, undetectable equals un-transmittable.
“So as long as you’re adhering to your medication and seeing your doctor every three months – I mean, I’ve picked up figure skating, I’ve done nothing but get cuter and be able to work longer and harder hours. I feel like I’m thriving!”