Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Billy Porter breaks his silence on his HIV status

The Pose star has come out in The Hollywood Reporter as HIV positive.

In an up close and personal interview in Manhattan, Billy Porter, who plays the HIV-positive Pray Tell on the hit FX series came out about his status, which was diagnosed in 2007.

Porter told THR‘s Lacey Rose: “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate,” revealing that no one on the show realized how close his character was to himself. The article then segues into a piece written by Porter, explaining his identity, his survival, and how both have dovetailed with his award-winning and stellar career. It is accompanied by video where Porter reveals that growing up in the Pentecostal church he was shamed into the closet by his religion about his sexuality, and by extension about his HIV status. Read the article here.

GLAAD and Gilead Sciences last year released a survey that measures American attitudes toward HIV/AIDS and people living with HIV. The inaugural State of HIV Stigma Study found:

“The tremendous levels of stigma facing people living with HIV today can only be broken by icons like Billy Porter showing the world that HIV is not at all a barrier to a healthy and successful life,” said DaShawn Usher, Associate Director, Communities of Color, GLAAD. “People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV, plus medications like PrEP protect people who do not have HIV from contracting HIV, but these leaps in HIV prevention and treatment have largely been invisible in the news and entertainment industries. When the groundbreaking show Pose goes off air in a few weeks, there will be zero television characters living with HIV. That is truly unacceptable when 1.2 million Americans and about 38 million people globally are living with HIV. Billy’s powerful interview needs to be a wake-up call for media and the general public that it’s time to end the stigma that people living with HIV face and to educate each other about HIV prevention and treatment.”

Only 55% of LGBTQ Americans and 51% of non-LGBTQ Americans report feeling knowledgeable about HIV. 6 in 10 Americans wrongfully believe that “it is important to be careful around people living with HIV to avoid catching it.” Nearly 90% of American adults agreed “there is stigma around HIV” and “people are quick to judge those with HIV.” At a time when people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives, and cannot transmit the virus when on proper medications, only 60% of respondents believed HIV can be treated. Only slightly more than half of American adults had seen stories about people living with HIV in the media.

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Queer Forty Staff

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