Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness Opens Up About ‘Devastating’ HIV Diagnosis

Matt Bagwell

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has opened up about living with HIV. 

JVN, who is one of the fab five on the hit Netflix show, says that by speaking out he is hoping to break the stigma surrounding the condition.

Jonathan Van Ness 

The 32-year-old revealed his status in his new book, Over the Top, writing that the moment he was told that he was HIV+ was “devastating”.

In an extract from his memoir, shared with New York Times, Jonathan explains he was diagnosed after fainting at the hair salon he was working at as 25-year-old.

“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes. 

Following the news, JVN vowed to start a new life for himself in LA and later auditioned for the Queer Eye reboot.

He’s gone on to become a firm favourite with the rest of the Fab Five – Antoni, Karamo Brown, Tan France and Bobby Berk.

(L-R) Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness

Describing himself as a “member of the beautiful HIV positive community”, he reveals he was nervous about going public with his HIV status.

“When Queer Eye came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?’,” he says.

“And then I was like, ‘The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatisation of the LGBT community thrive around me’. 

“I do feel the need to talk about this.”

He adds: “It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly.

“These are issues that need to be talked about. These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup. 

“That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realise you’re never too broken to be fixed.”

Jonathan is the second high profile star to go public with their HIV status in the past week, with former rugby star Gareth Thomas also revealing he is HIV+.

Gareth Thomas

As Gareth went public, he revealed that undisclosed “evil” people had “made his life hell” by threatening to reveal his condition without his consent.

Elaborating further in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, the former Wales captain also revealed that it was a journalist who broke the news to his parents.

Gareth has received widespread praise since posting his initial video on social media in which he disclosed his condition, including from Princes William and Harry, who both reached out on Instagram.

A day after the video was posted, Gareth was met with rapturous applause when he completed the mammoth Ironman challenge in Wales, in what he said was part of breaking down stigma and misconceptions around HIV.

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, told HuffPost: “Thank you to Jonathan Van Ness for speaking publicly about living with HIV. 

Jonathan is a brilliant example of how HIV doesn’t have to be a barrier to achieving absolutely anything you want to. He is a shining example of being your authentic self on Queer Eye and a force of nature who always speaks out for what he believes in. 

“As someone living with HIV, I’m excited to see what Jonathan will achieve as a member of our community.

’It’s been quite a week for HIV with rugby’s Gareth Thomas also speaking out about his HIV diagnosis for the first time. While no-one should feel any pressure to be open about their HIV status, role models like Jonathan and Gareth have such a huge impact in updating the public’s knowledge of HIV in showing you can live a long, healthy life.

“Because while medical progress has been huge, stigma and misinformation continue to have a big impact on the lives of people living with HIV.”

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