Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst has revealed that she is HIV-positive.
The 29-year-old singer and drag performer – real name Tom Neuwirth – announced on Sunday (April 15) that she had been receiving treatment for the condition for “several years” and had decided to make a statement about her status after an ex-boyfriend “threatened to go public”.
“I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life in the future,” she wrote on Instagram.
Conchita, who won the 2014 Eurovision competition in Copenhagen with soaring ballad ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, explained that her viral load is currently undetectable, meaning she is unable to pass on the virus.
The star added that her family knew of her statud and had supported her “unconditionally since day one”.
She wrote: “Coming out is better than being outed by third. 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.”
Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, applauded Conchita’s statement, but added that that the threat to expose her HIV status was evidence of the “abhorrent stigma” which still surrounds the virus.
“The decision to talk openly about your HIV status should be a personal one and not taken away or ever, ever used as a threat”, he said in a statement.
“Threatening to reveal someone’s HIV status, under any circumstances, is entirely wrong.
“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.
“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.
“This is because HIV medication works by shrinking the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels, which both protects the immune system from damage and prevents HIV from being passed on to anyone else.
“Conchita has done so much good since winning Eurovision four years ago, and has shown her strength of character once again in her handling of this situation.”