Conchita Wurst has revealed she is HIV positive after claiming that a former boyfriend threatened to go public with the information.
The 2014 Eurovision winner took to Instagram to share the information with her fans, vowing that she "will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life in the future”.
Conchita, the drag queen alter ego created by Tom Neuwirth, published a post in German in which she says that she has been HIV positive for “many years” and decided to share this information only because “an ex-boyfriend” threatened to go public with it.
The translated statement reads:
The singer is a staunch advocate for LGBT+ rights and once challenged Putin to sit down and talk with her about gay rights during the Eurovision winners’ press conference.
indy100 reached out to a number of HIV and sexual health activists, spokespeople and charities about the circumstances of Wurst’s reveal.
Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said that the decision to talk about one’s HIV status should be a “personal one and not taken away or ever, ever used as a threat”.
He adds that despite the medical advances made in treating and testing HIV, Conchita’s Instagram post highlights the existing “abhorrent stigma” still attached to the virus.
Matthew Hodson, executive director of Aidsmap is praising the fact Conchita took the opportunity to “dispel ignorance and fear” about HIV detectability.
Nicholas Baker, outreach and communications manager at GMFA, echoes Green’s sentiments and said it’s “saddening that in 2018 people living with HIV still face stigma”.
Tom Hayes who is a editor of beyondpositive, a website for HIV positive people, adds that “threats of forced disclosure” is often used as a tool of control against those who are HIV positive.