Why This Reality Contestant Opening Up About His HIV Status Is So Important

Photo: David Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock.
One reality contestant is talking honestly about HIV in a way not often seen on television, especially in the landscape of unscripted shows. Eric Leonardos is among the contestants on Finding Prince Charming, Logo's new gay dating series. He and other eligible bachelors are competing for a relationship with the "prince," Robert Sepulveda, Jr. On Thursday night's episode, Leonardos will reveal to Sepulveda and to viewers at home that he is HIV positive, and has been for several years. The 35-year-old spoke to People about his choice to open up on tonight's episode. "Over the past five years I’ve become more and more confident and comfortable talking about this with people that may not be that close to me in order to share my experience with HIV, living with HIV, and where I’m at today," he said. "I feel like sharing my story with the people around me is helpful. I really just want to be a service and be able to help people and use my experience for the greater good."
Leonardos explained that he hoped to set the record straight about what it's really like having HIV in 2016 as a young gay man. His candidness comes as a milestone for visibility for men and women who are living and loving with HIV. By using his platform on the series to raise awareness about living with HIV, Leonardos is also helping to shake loose the long-enduring stigma around sexually transmitted infections. "The call to action here really is that people need to go get tested and not be afraid to get tested. So many people don’t get tested for HIV and for other STDs because they’re afraid of the result," he said. "The more and more that people can see people come out as HIV-positive and see the reaction to the people around them be positive and those people go public, wrap their arms around those people and show their support...the more it begins to diminish the stigma of HIV... For people to be able to see that, that can change things."

Finding Prince Charming
airs on Logo Thursdays at 9 p.m.

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