Billy Porter reveals he's been living with HIV for 14 years

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  • Billy Porter
    American actor and singer

Watch: Billy Porter opens up about HIV diagnosis

Billy Porter has shared that he's been living with HIV for 14 years. 

The 51-year-old actor opened up about receiving the diagnosis in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter

The Pose star, who plays HIV positive character Pray Tell on the series, was diagnosed in 2007 - a year he told the publication was the "worst of [his] life". 

He'd been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February, was declared bankrupt in the March and tested positive for HIV in June after originally seeking medical help for a spot which had increased in size and before beginning to hurt. 

Billy Porter has been living with HIV for 14 years. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Billy Porter has been living with HIV for 14 years. (Getty Images)

Read more: Billy Porter unveils genderless fairy godmother

Porter related that at the time he was getting tested every six months so when he was offered a HIV test while seeking medical help, he took up the offer and the result was positive. 

"For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew — except for my mother," he said. I was trying to have a life and a career, and I wasn’t certain I could if the wrong people knew. 

"It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession."

Porter said he grew up in the Pentecostal church with a "very religious family". He remarked that he'd made a "pact" with himself to wait until after his mother had died to share his diagnosis publicly. 

However, he ended up telling her on the last day of shooting for the third and final series of Pose, which is set to be released later in the year. 

The star recalled his mother telling him: "'I love you no matter what'."

Read more: Billy Porter channels Grace Jones on Brits red carpet

"It couldn't have happened at a better time," Porter went on. "Every single solitary dream that I ever had is coming true in this moment, all at the same time."

Porter is set to star as the Fairy Godmother in an upcoming film adaptation of Cinderella and his memoir Unprotected is due out later in 2021.

Billy Porter has been married to Adam Porter-Smith since 2017. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
Billy Porter has been married to Adam Porter-Smith since 2017. (Getty Images)

Addressing his health now, he described himself as the "healthiest [he's] been in [his] entire life". 

In 2019, he won the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on Pose.

He also has a Tony Award to his name for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots as well as winning the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2014 with the production. 

Porter has been married to husband Adam Smith since 2017. 

Watch: Billy Porter says Oscar's tuxedo dress was a 'business decision'

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