JVN’s coming out: How perception of people living with HIV has changed

Since 1984, when a mother-son duo became “the face of public education” about HIV, public reception to individuals living with HIV has changed dramatically.

During the AIDS crisis in the 80s, even celebrities who came out as HIV-positive endured the negative stigma associated with the diagnosis. As treatments developed, and more prominent people have shared their stories about living with HIV, the reception to coming out as HIV-positive has changed.

When “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness, 32, came out as HIV-positive in an interview with The New York Times on Saturday, he received an outpouring of support online. The reaction was in sharp contrast to how people have perceived HIV in decades past.

Here’s a look at the history of coming out about being HIV-positive, from 13-year-old Ryan White’s fight to stay in school, to Magic Johnson’s famous announcement that he would be retiring from the NBA, to celebrities who live with HIV today.


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