Former Eurovision Song Contest winner reveals HIV status

Besi Besemar April 16, 2018

Conchita Wurst who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 with the anthem Rise like a Phoenix has announced they are HIV positive.

Conchita Wurst on stage in Trafalgar Square at London Pride in June 2014
Conchita Wurst on stage in Trafalgar Square at London Pride in June 2014

One of the most popular singers to win the contest in recent years for Austria, Conchita, real name Tom Neuwirth chose to announce their HIV status after a former partner threatened to expose them.

In a statement released on Instagram, Conchita said the day had come to “liberate themselves for the rest of their life from a sword of Damocles hanging over them”.

They said: “I have been HIV-positive for many years. While this information is actually irrelevant to the public, an ex-boyfriend has threatened to go public with this private information, and I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life in the future.

“Since receiving my diagnosis,¬†I have been on treatment, and for many years without interruption have been undetectable, so I am not able to pass on the virus.

Conchita revealed they had chosen not to go public with this information in the past to protect family and friends, but Coming Out with this information now was better than being outed by any third-party and hopefully would be another step against the stigmatisation of people who become infected with HIV.

“To my fans: the information about my HIV status may be new to you –¬† it‚Äôs not to me! I’m well and I’m stronger, more motivated and liberated than ever. Thank you for your support!”

Ian Green
Ian Green

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “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. 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.

“Despite all the medical advances we’ve made in the fight against HIV, in treatment and in testing, Conchita’s Instagram post highlights how much more we have to do to tackle the abhorrent stigma which still surrounds the virus.

“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. This is because HIV medication works by shrinking the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels, which both protects the immune system from damage and prevents HIV from being passed on to anyone else.

‚ÄúConchita has done so much good since winning Eurovision four years ago, and has shown her strength of character once again in her handling of this situation.‚ÄĚ