Celebrity raises awareness about HIV diagnosis

Sofia RositaniReporter

Jonathan Van Ness, a hairdresser, podcaster and Queer Eye star, just came out as being HIV-positive in his newest memoir called “Over the Top”. In the memoir, he talks of his struggle with being addicted to drugs and sex during his college years. One day, he said, he spontaneously fainted while highlighting a customer’s hair. The next day he went to Planned Parenthood to diagnose his flu-like symptoms.

That day is the same one in which Van’s life changed forever. His results came back HIV positive. In his memoir, he wrote, “That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be.”

HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS, or Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome, when the disease is left untreated.

Many celebrities have come out as HIV positive, including Charlie Sheen, Freddie Mercury, and Magic Johnson. Since then, there has been less of a stigma revolving around it, and there has been more support with those who have the disease.

Jonathan Van Ness is a prominent person in the LGBTQ+ community. He is known for his feminine look, and bubbly personality.

“I am glad he is coming out and being open about it because you don’t see people talking about it and it is a problem in the gay community still and I feel really sad,” said secondary education major India Encarnacion, a freshman. “I think the more celebrities that come out, people will be more comfortable talking about it instead of being really scared and having to keep it a secret.”

Social work major Rosaliz Carreno, a freshman, was shocked to know Jonathan Van Ness has HIV.

“I am kinda surprised from a show that would help with their lives they would know to protect themselves, and the dangers of HIV,” she said.

Carreno also said she thinks now that he has come out on being HIV positive, the more people will feel more comfortable regarding this topic, and it will raise more awareness for those who do not know much about this disease, or how to be tested for it.

During 2019, many more ways to help those with HIV have been discovered, according to The New York Times website.

“An overwhelming body of clinical evidence has firmly established that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load — the amount of HIV in the blood — by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others. But we have much work to do.”

In March of 2019, two patients were cured from HIV. These patients were cured 12 years apart but were cured from the same treatment, a stem cell transplant, The British Broadcast Corporation reported.

A test taken by the Center For Disease Control in 2017 noted that the diagnosis for HIV was higher in young men with 87 percent, than in young women, with 30 percent. Less than one percent of youth who received an HIV diagnosis were aged 13 to 14, 21 percent were aged 15 to 19, and 79 percent were aged 20 to 24.

The Wellness Center and the Health Center offer free screenings for those who want to be tested for HIV, or any other STD. They focus on sexual health, which involves free protection, and helpful advice for your reproductive health. Jonathan Van Ness is a a public figure in the LGBTQ+ community. His coming out garnered respect from many of his celebrity colleagues and strangers alike.

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