Disclosure can be one of the most difficult moments in the life of a person living with HIV. Imagine having to disclose to a nationwide television audience.
That's exactly the scenario for one contestant on Logo's upcoming Bachelor-esque reality show, Finding Prince Charming, where 13 eligible bachelors are vying for the Robert Sepúlveda Jr.'s love.
Host Lance Bass and Sepúlveda confirmed to People that one contestant on the upcoming reality show will reveal his HIV-positive status on the show.
"This is one of the things I love about the show — it's a fun reality show, it's dramatic, but there's a lot of heart in it and amazing story lines that you're going to shed a tear over," Bass told People. "And one of those is finding about this guy's HIV."
Sepúlveda Jr., who earlier this week faced allegations that he was previously a sex worker, told People that he believed this would help show viewers that HIV-positive people are worthy of love, as well.
"For me, it's like: Is someone HIV positive not worthy of love?" Sepúlveda Jr. told People. "That's really the question, and it doesn't matter to me. 'Prince Charming' would be accepting of anyone, and that's how I am."
Sepúlveda also told People that he's "not going to not date someone because they're HIV positive. That's ridiculous. It's really a stigma that we have to resolve now."
One 2011 study found that about 70% of gay, HIV-positive mensurveyed said they experienced discrimination within the gay community. Hookup app Grindr recently caused a small controversy when they asked users whether they'd be open to a feature that would filter HIV-positive men out of search results.
Talking about HIV is nothing new for reality television. Before the reality boom of the early 2000s, MTV's The Real World featured HIV-positive housemate Pedro Zamora on their 1994 season, 22 years ago. Zamora's relationship with his partner Sean Sasser was heavily documented on the show and their commitment ceremony was a landmark moment in television history.
Zamora used his MTV platform to combat the stigma against HIV at a time when living with HIV often meant dying from an AIDS-related illness, and loving people living with HIV meant losing people with HIV. But times have changed and hopefully Finding Prince Charming doesn't exploit an HIV-positive person's narrative and soak it in schmaltz.