Eradicating HIV, how the ‘celebrity effect’ can help

Local News

COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH)– Breakout star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” Jonathan Van Ness has revealed he is HIV positive.

Three and a half years ago when Charlie Sheen announced his same diagnosis, media coverage and subsequent internet searches on HIV dramatically increased.

HIV researchers and testing advocated are hoping the same thing happens in the wake of Van Ness’ admission.

“Inform yourself about HIV,” said infectious disease expert and assistant professor at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center Dr. Carlos Malvestutto. “Understand that it’s not a death sentence. Now, it’s a chronic condition that can be managed and that people can live perfectly healthy lives with it, and also I encourage everybody, if you haven’t had an HIV test, go to your local sexual health clinic or doctor and get an HIV test done.”

PREVIOUS STORY: OSU doctor explains how HIV epidemic can be eradicated

32 year old Van Ness initially spoke with the New York Times about his diagnosis while promoting his new memoir, “Over the Top.” He said he tested positive when he was 25 after collapsing while at work in a St. Louis hair salon.

Van Ness is now healthy and told ‘Today’s’ Hoda Kotb Tuesday morning medication has made him virally suppressed, which means HIV is undetectable in his blood.

His Instagram page is a testament to that, full of videos of him doing gymnastics and figure skating tricks.

In June on National HIV Testing Day, NBC4 spoke Dr. Malvestutto about his research. He explained the global target for eliminating HIV is called the 90-90-90. That means 90% of people living with HIV know their status, with 90% of those people on treatment leading to 90% who are virally suppressed.

“That first target nationally is about 86%. In Ohio, it’s a little bit less than that and it varies in different communities,” Dr. Malvestutto explained. “The [90-90-90 target] has already been achieved by other countries as well.”

For more information on HIV or PrEP and how to get tested or the prescription in Franklin County for free or at a reduced price CLICK HERE.

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