Billy Porter speaks out about living with HIV

By GLAAD |
May 19, 2021

Emmy and GLAAD-Award winning actor Billy Porter today appeared on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter to speak about living with HIV.

“The tremendous levels of stigma facing people living with HIV today can only be broken by icons like Billy Porter showing the world that HIV is not at all a barrier to a healthy and successful life,” said DaShawn Usher, Associate Director, Communities of Color, GLAAD. “People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV, plus medications like PrEP protect people who do not have HIV from contracting HIV, but these leaps in HIV prevention and treatment have largely been invisible in the news and entertainment industries. When the groundbreaking show Pose goes off air in a few weeks, there will be zero television characters living with HIV. That is truly unacceptable when 1.2 million Americans and about 38 million people globally are living with HIV. Billy’s powerful interview needs to be a wake-up call for media and the general public that it’s time to end the stigma that people living with HIV face and to educate each other about HIV prevention and treatment.”

GLAAD and Gilead Sciences last year released a survey that measures American attitudes toward HIV/AIDS and people living with HIV.

The inaugural State of HIV Stigma Study found:

  • Only 55% of LGBTQ Americans and 51% of non-LGBTQ Americans report feeling knowledgeable about HIV.
  • 6 in 10 Americans wrongfully believe that “it is important to be careful around people living with HIV to avoid catching it.”
  • Nearly 90% of American adults agreed “there is stigma around HIV” and “people are quick to judge those with HIV.” 
  • At a time when people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives, and cannot transmit the virus when on proper medications, only 60% of respondents believed HIV can be treated.
  • Only slightly more than half of American adults had seen stories about people living with HIV in the media.

For more information: https://www.glaad.org/endhivstigma

This year’s GLAAD Where We Are on TV report showed a drastic decrease in representation of scripted TV characters living with HIV, from nine the previous year to just three. All three characters are on FX’s Pose. GLAAD called on the industry to erase the stigma and drive meaningful cultural change with authentic storytelling featuring people living with HIV. More info on the Where We Are on TV report here.