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Musician Mykki Blanco Points Out HIV Stigma in the Time of COVID

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Rapper and performance artist Mykki Blanco (who uses they/them pronouns) has been a fierce advocate for people living with HIV since they opened up about their own positive status in 2015. At the time, they were one of the only Black artists in the hip-hop world to ever do so. 

Blanco came out on Facebook during Pride season of 2015, writing “I’ve been HIV-Positive since 2011, my entire career. Fuck stigma and hiding in the dark, this is my real life. I’m healthy I’ve toured the world 3 times but I’ve been living in the dark, it’s time to actually be as punk as I say I am…. No more living a lie. HAPPY PRIDE.”

These days, Blanco continues to be an outspoken advocate and champion in fighting HIV stigma. Earlier this year in an interview with British GQ Style (where they also appeared on the cover), Blanco spoke about the need for more sex positivity and HIV inclusion within the realm of sex education in schools.

“I probably did have some [HIV education], but it would’ve been a blip,’ Blanco told GQ. “It was very biological. You learn about the parts, no mention of pleasure. A teacher saying one line, ‘When you are older you will have intercourse and you may wear a condom so that you don’t have an unwanted child.’ It was very clinical.”

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Cover star: Mykki Blanco on the cover of Plus in 2015 (left) shortly after going public about living with HIV, and on British GQ Style's 2021 summer issue (right).

And now Blanco is once again using their platform to take a swing at stigma. Earlier this week, they reposted a year-old social media message on Instagram, and further added to the conversation.

“I made this post over a year ago at the peak of the pandemic,” wrote Blanco. “As the month comes to an end we are fast approaching World AIDS day on 12/1/2021. This year before December 1st hits I hope we can truly think deeply about the power of stigma.”

The several-paragraph post goes on to discuss things like Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) and attitudes around HIV in a post-COVID world.

“In the wake of COVID I challenge you to re-educated yourself about HIV. I challenge you to take some time, read [a] few recent articles, studies, journals. I challenge you to meet or befriend someone who lives with HIV. I challenge you to think not only of HIV affecting Queer populations or POC but the reality that at this point it affects every walk of life regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or age.” 

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