Comedian reveals he is HIV positive in bid to ‘challenge stereotypes’
Gay comedian Scott Agnew has revealed he is HIV positive.
The Scottish funnyman – who was diagnosed last year – hopes that by talking about the subject, he can tackle some of the stigmas and stereotypes that still surround HIV.
“It’s certainly not a death sentence,” he told the Rutherglen Reformer.
“My consultant actually said that I’ve probably increased my life expectancy because men in the West of Scotland don’t see their doctors enough!”
Discussing his treatment, Agnew said “the advances in medicine have been unreal”.
“I take one tablet a day and that’s it, other than trying to get a bit fitter than you would be normally.”
The comedian – who has also suffered from depression – says despite initially struggling with his diagnosis, it has ultimately helped him “value” his life more.
“The day I was told it hit me like a train wreck,” he revealed.
“You have to think about how you live your life and what you do.
“For someone who’s thought about killing himself, it’s strange when you put a bit of value in your life and start thinking that you still want to be here.
He added that although he had been “reckless sexually”, he’d always been regularly tested.
“You’re tested every month, you’re coming back negative and you start to get an invincibility complex, even when you’ve been reckless,” he added.
“Oddly, I then contracted HIV when I wasn’t being promiscuous, and that blindsided me a bit.”
Since being diagnosed, Agnew says he has received strong support by his friends and family, as well as sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).
Robert McKay – National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland – told PinkNews that THT are “really grateful” to Agnew for “speaking out about the realities of living with HIV in 2016.”
More from PinkNews
“Thanks to incredible progress that has been made in HIV treatment, Scott is right – HIV doesn’t have to stop you living a long and healthy life.
“Sadly public attitudes haven’t kept up with these advances and we cannot underestimate how damaging HIV stigma can be,” he added.
“Hurtful myths and misconceptions stop people getting tested and onto effective treatment, which means people continue to pass on the virus without knowing.
McKay’s comments come after NHS England faced questions regarding a statement on HIV-preventing PrEP drugs that fed many of the negative stories on the subject.
The National Union of Journalists said that coverage of the legal battle over Pre-exposure Prophylaxis commissioning – which saw NHS England defeated by a HIV charity – fell below expected standards.
The Daily Mail had claimed PrEP drugs are a “promiscuity pill” with a “skewed sense of values”, while Channel 5’s Wright Show led with “Free £20m drugs for gays who won’t use condoms”.