Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst has revealed she is HIV positive and has been living with the virus for years.
Wurst, the onstage alter-ego of drag queen Thomas Neuwirth, said she was force to reveal the news after an ex-boyfriend had “threatened to go public.”
“I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life,” the 29-year old wrote on Instagram. “Coming out is better than being outed by a third party.”
Wurst shot to fame after winning the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest with her song Rise Like a Phoenix.
Wurst wrote that she had been receiving regular treatment for “several years.” The virus is no longer detectable in her blood and not capable of being passed on, she said.
“I hope to encourage (others) and make a step against the stigmatisation of people who through their own behaviour or through no fault of their own were infected with HIV,” she said.
“To my fans: the information about my hiv status may be new to you – my status is not! I’m well and… I’m stronger, more motivated and liberated than ever. Thank you for your support!”
Wurst had wanted to keep the information secret to protect her family, who knew about her condition, and because it was only relevant to her former partners, she said.
The Terrence Higgins trust, which campaigns on HIV issues, said that threatening to reveal someone’s HIV diagnosis was “entirely wrong.” Its chief executive, Ian Green applauded Wurst’s response.
“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. Threatening to reveal someone’s HIV status, under any circumstances, is entirely wrong,” Green said.
“What other health condition would be used as blackmail against someone? And we know this isn’t something which only happens to those in the public eye.
“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.”