RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Charity Kase has been praised for speaking publicly about her experience of living with HIV.
In the latest episode of the BBC Three programme the drag queen revealed she contracted the disease when she was 18.
She said she went through a “really dark time” as a young adult.
— RuPaul's Drag Race UK (@dragraceukbbc) October 7, 2021
“I moved to London when I was 17 and then when I was 18 I was having a good time and I was on the scene,” she said during the BBC Three programme.
“But then I ended up contracting HIV and it was kind of really hard for me to process that at 18 and I was still a child, do you know what I mean?
“Six years on I’m still living with the after effects of this one night where this guy took advantage of me.”
Kase said she has received messages on dating apps “saying you are diseased, you are disgusting, stay away from me”.
“The trauma of getting diagnosed positive really comes from the stigma of HIV and it’s really sad that’s such a thing,” she added.
Her comments were praised by charity bosses.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust charity, said: “I applaud Charity Kase’s decision to be open about HIV.
“Better awareness about the reality of HIV today is vital to tackling stigma surrounding HIV and the information Charity has shared on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK tonight will educate so many.”
She added: “Although no one is obliged to be open about their status, and it isn’t always an easy decision, the same stigma that makes it hard to say you have HIV, is a stigma that is gradually eroded by people being open and proud.
“Thank you Charity Kase.”
It’s so important to know the facts on HIV and challenge attitudes towards the virus that are stuck in the 1980s.
— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) October 7, 2021
Ian Green, CEO of sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said it was “incredible to see Charity Kase using their platform on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK to educate people across the world on HIV and show that a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you from living life to the fullest”.
“People like Charity are fundamental in changing negative attitudes towards HIV and tackling stigma,” he said.
“We’re thrilled that they are talking openly about the realities of living with HIV today and showing that there is absolutely no place for discrimination in 2021.”
Mr Green added: “As Charity explains, we’ve made so much progress in the fight against HIV – including that people on effective treatment can’t pass on the virus and can expect to live just as long as anyone else.
“However, public awareness about HIV hasn’t caught up with the medical advancements.
“Stigma and misconceptions about the virus continue to halt progress and lead people to feel shame, fear and anguish about their diagnosis.
“They’re a big part of why people living with HIV are far more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population.”