Karl Schmid is an Australian news correspondent based in Los Angeles for America’s ABC network. Apart from being known for hosting coverage of the Oscars and other Hollywood red carpet events, Schmid made headlines around the world after publicly disclosing his HIV status in a heartfelt Facebook post.
Over the last few years there have been numerous examples of high-profile personalities choosing to disclose their sexuality or gender identity openly. Barry Manilow, Janelle Monae, Ezra Miller and Gus Kenworthy are just a few names that spring to mind. Yet when it comes to the topic of disclosing HIV status, examples of out and proud personalities are fewer and farther between.
Moreover, the circumstances in which HIV status disclosure happens aren’t always entirely by an individual’s own volition. In April 2018, Conchita Wurst avoided blackmail by declaring she had been living with HIV for several years. The Eurovision winner had intended to keep the information private, but an ex-boyfriend threatened to go public. In an Instagram post to her followers, she wrote “I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life,”.
Fortunately, Schmid’s story is vastly different. He describes his disclosure as happening “very organically”, writing about his HIV status in a Facebook post in March 2018 having been diagnosed with the virus 10 years earlier.
In a heartfelt message, Schmid wrote “I’m just like you. I have a big heart and I want to be loved and accepted. I may be on TV from time to time, but at the end of the day I’m just an average guy who wants want [sic] we all want. To be accepted and loved by our friends and family and to be encouraged by our peers.”
During a return trip to Australia, Schmid took some time to chat with Emen8 about living with HIV, disclosure, stigma and how maintaining an undetectable viral load means HIV cannot be passed on through sex — even when condoms aren’t being used.
Karl Schmid on being HIV positive and undetectable | Part 1/3
Karl Schmid on HIV stigma | Part 2/3
Karl Schmid on disclosing HIV status | Part 3/3
HIV in the 21st century
In the last few years, there have been some remarkable leaps and bounds in how much we understand about HIV and what we can do to treat and prevent it more effectively than ever. To discover more, check out HIV 101: 2018 edition.
Schmid’s story emphasis the value of being able to talk about HIV and the benefits of peer visibility when it comes to the personal decision to disclose HIV status.
The HIV Disclosure Project is a resource designed to help people living with HIV develop strategies and skills around disclosure of status from the lived experience of their peers. Through candid stories of resilience, people from around the world share their experiences of what disclosure means to them.
If you feel you could benefit from talking with someone, whether that’s due to concerns about getting HIV, how you can avoid it or even an HIV diagnosis, there are organisations and community groups available to help.
Speaking with a doctor or sexual health centre is a great way to start. You can also message us at Emen8 through our Facebook page or contact form. Alternatively, contact the local HIV/AIDS organisation in your state or territory. There are also online communities for people living with HIV and people using PrEP for HIV prevention who can offer help too.