Former Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst revealed on Sunday that she is HIV positive and that she has been receiving regular treatment for “several years.”
Writing on Instagram, the Austrian drag queen, 29, said she felt forced to reveal her HIV status because an ex-boyfriend had “threatened to go public.”
“I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life,” she wrote, adding that “coming out is better than being outed by a third party.”
She also explained that she had kept the information private thus far to spare her family — which has known of her condition — any attention it would draw and because she believes it is only relevant for those she may have sexual contact with.
“To my fans: the information about my HIV status may be new but my status is not! I’m well and…I’m stronger, more motivated and liberated than ever. Thank you for your support.”
Wurst, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won the Eurovision competition in 2014 with a song titled “Rise of the Phoenix.” Since then she has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights.
"I hope to give others courage and to take another step against the stigmatisation of people who, through their own behaviour or that of others, have become infected with HIV,” she also wrote.
HIV charities have rallied around the songstress, deploring however that she had been forced to reveal her diagnosis.
"It's shameful that @ConchitaWurst was forced to disclose her HIV status," Matthew Hodson, executive director of NAM aidsmap, a website offering information on HIV, tweeted on Monday.
"But I’m grateful that already she is seizing the opportunity to dispel ignorance & fear by affirming that HIV undetectable = untransmittable," Hodson added.
Ian Green, chief executive of aids charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said in a Facebook post that “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.”
“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,” he wrote.