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Oliver Sim opens up on HIV status: ‘it made me scared’

“It’s like my first steps into the world, I’d caused myself damage… it made me scared,” Sim shares.

By Emily Maskell

Oliver Sim
Oliver Sim has opened up about his HIV status in a new interview (Image: Instagram/@hideousbastard)

The xx’s Oliver Sim has shared his journey of coming to terms with living with HIV in his first interview since sharing that he was diagnosed at seventeen.

In May, the 33-year-old British bassist and singer shared he’d been living with HIV since he was 17.

He then addressed it in his track ‘Hideous’ from his debut solo album, Hideous Bastard.

In a statement at the time, he wrote of the song, “I haven’t written the record to dwell, but rather to free myself of some of the shame and fear that I’ve felt for a long time.”

In a new interview with Channel 4 News Sim says he told his “nearest and dearest about his HIV status but had otherwise been dancing around difficult conversations due to the shame and stigma.

“A lot of people, I had told them in a way of having one conversation and then setting up an invisible forcefield around it. So for me to release it in a song to lots of people, it’s quite a drastic thing.”

He admits that his mum suggested “baby steps first” as opposed to making the announcement so publicly in a song, however, having conversations with people in his everyday life about his HIV was something he didn’t want to do.

Instead, music was his preferred outlet where he could share details about himself without having to be in the room or make eye contact with someone when they are listening.

“Actually sitting down felt like the harder thing to do,” he shares. “But I took my mum’s advice and started having those conversations for like two years before I released the song.”

Reflecting on being 17 when he received his diagnosis, Sim notes that it was during a time when he was “just starting to open up about my sexuality… and go it alone and it shut me down.”

“It’s like my first steps into the world, I’d caused myself damage, I’d hurt myself and it made me scared,” he adds.

He explains he attached his status to his sexuality which he thought “was dangerous and going to hurt me and something to be ashamed of.”

His only reference point for an individual with HIV was Freddie Mercury, who died when Sim was a toddler.

Though Sim has now shared his status and everyone in his life has been “really supportive” that lingering sense of stigma still remains: “In my head I can have these wild fantasies that I’m going to be chased out of a room for sharing this piece of information. But that’s never happened.”

Hideous Bastard is out now.