Charity Kase
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Drag Race UK’s Charity Kase bravely opens up about HIV diagnosis

The queen spoke openly about how they contracted the virus on the latest episode

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RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Charity Kase has spoken out about their HIV diagnosis in a heart-to-heart.

The 24-year-old queen is making a name for herself on the show for stand-out, horror-inspired fashion. In the latest episode, she was asked by Kitty Scott-Claus how she began drag.

While working away on their ‘great outdoors’ runway outfits, Charity explains drag is her way of “expressing emotions and her therapy” after being diagnosed.

“When I was 18, I was having a good time, I was on the scene, but then I ended up contracting HIV,” she said. “It was kind of really hard for me to process that at 18. And I was still a child, you know what I mean?

“From that one night, I contracted HIV, I contracted lots of other STIs, and that’s really difficult because six years on, I am still living with the after effects of this one night by this guy who took advantage of me.”

RuPaul's Drag Race UK - Charity Kase
Charity opens up about her life with HIV (Credit: World of Wonder)

Charity continues to explain the stigma around the virus is more of an issue than the virus itself.  Thanks to groundbreaking drugs, she still has a normal life expectancy and cannot pass HIV onto others.

Charity’s experience of dating with HIV

“On social dating apps people message saying like, ‘you’re diseased, you’re disgusting, stay away from me’ and just horrible, nasty comments that are really degrading and mean,” Charity tells Kitty.

Read more: Canada’s Drag Race: Meet the season 2 queens hoping to snatch the crown

“The trauma of getting diagnosed positive really comes from the stigma of HIV and it’s really sad that’s still such a thing. When I was 18 and I was diagnosed, I didn’t even really know what HIV was. The stigma that I felt, is ‘you have got a disease, and it’s dirty, and you should be ashamed’.

RuPaul's Drag Race UK - Charity Kase
The 24-year-old turned to drag as ‘a therapy’ (Credit: World of Wonder)

“After having those negative experiences, I haven’t put myself out there at all. I would love a relationship. I would love to feel close with somebody, but I just don’t feel capable of putting myself in that place where I’m so vulnerable that someone can turn me down over something.

“It’s not even to do with HIV, it’s more to do with feeling lonely.”

What is U=U and how is it connected to HIV?

HIV is a disease that attacks your immune system and weakens your ability to fight infection.

It’s contracted through the exchanging of bodily fluids, such as semen, blood or breast milk. It can often develop into AIDS, which is a series of life-threatening infections.

Charity Kase
Charity is killing it on Drag Race with stand out costumes (Credit: World of Wonder)

Particularly in the 80s and 90s, HIV/AIDS had a low survival rate.

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While there is currently no outright cure, thankfully breakthrough medicines mean viral loads can be reduced to the point that it’s untransmittable.

As a result, those with HIV can live a normal and happy life.

Charity Kase
Charity’s unique looks are certainly jaw-dropping! (Credit: World of Wonder)

U=U means Undetectable = Untransmittable.

“The stigma hasn’t gone anywhere, and unless you have a personal connection with somebody who has that experience, you’re not educated around it,” Charity explains.

“It’s important that it’s taught in schools. And that’s why it’s important that we talk about it.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK airs Thursdays at 7pm on BBC Three and WOW Presents Plus. 

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