Charity Kase is fundraising for the National AIDS Trust this World AIDS Day to help combat “negative and damaging stereotypes” about HIV.
After speaking openly about living with the virus on season three of Drag Race UK, the 25-year-old is continuing to use her platform to raise awareness and tackle the stigma around it.
Taking to Instagram on 1 December, Charity announced that she is raising money for the aforementioned charity in a bid to change how HIV is portrayed in the UK and to boost “positive representation in the UK media”.
With a £200 target that was quickly reached thanks to donations from her followers, Charity uses the post to praise the UK government’s pledge to end new HIV cases by 2030 and thank those around her for their support on her journey.
She tells GAY TIMES: “I like to use the voice that I have to speak up on issues that I think are important and so I did that for HIV as it’s something that I know very well as it’s my experience.”
Charity explains that after appearing on Drag Race UK, she knew that her HIV status would be spoken about which she hoped could result in positive change.
She continues: “I knew that it would be spoken about and hopefully it would do some good, but I didn’t expect it to become such a big part of my life, which I’m obviously very grateful for.
“I’m very, very happy to be representing a community now and I’ll do my best to spread awareness and hopefully do some more good for the community and for the cause.”
The UK has one of the biggest decreases in new HIV diagnoses worldwide, with the government reporting a 35% reduction in new diagnoses in England between 2014 and 2019.
However, there is still a lot more to be done to bring an end to UK transmission by 2030.
“We need to spread the word about education around HIV and it needs to be implemented into every education system around,” Charity tells GAY TIMES. “I think that if we’re taught about it from a young age, hopefully we stand a good chance of being less prejudiced as we grow up and I think that’s the key to solving a lot of these prejudices and discriminations that we hold in the modern world.”
She explains that stigma is still a key issue facing people who live with HIV.
“There’s a massive problem with accessibility to medication for so many people, especially women and straight people who see PrEP, for example, as a gay drug because of how it’s been portrayed in media and through conversations and through stereotypes,” Charity says.
“There are lots of stigmas that are still around. For example, that it’s dirty – the word ‘clean’ comes up all the time on dating apps and social media and that’s really problematic and playing into a stigma that was created in the ‘80s.”
At the core of Charity’s fundraising and attempt to change how HIV is treated is a change to how it is depicted in the media.
She says: “In the UK I can only name one or two people who have come out in the media about their HIV status being positive in my lifetime and those people are cis white gay man and that is problematic.
“That is a big red flag for representation in the wider media, of course, of people of colour, of women, but also within the HIV community.
“A third of all people living with HIV in the UK are women and if you look at the discrimination that they face because of their HIV status, it’s quite shocking.”
You can donate to Charity’s fundraiser for the National AIDS Trust by clicking here.
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