The 32-year-old revealed his HIV-positive status in a New York Times profile last week, ahead of the Sept. 24 release of his memoir. Then, during an interview Wednesday, Van Ness told Build Series that he realized he had a “significant role to play” and a “responsibility” to support people living with HIV after publicly sharing his status. (Both Build Series and HuffPost are a part of Verizon Media.)
“That’s why I’m endorsing Senator Elizabeth Warren for president,” the “Queer Eye” star said. He revealed that his support for her was cemented after a difficult experience seeking medication last month.
Van Ness said he misplaced his daily HIV medication while he was traveling between New York and Philadelphia.
“I just was not thinking, so I left my medicine in New York City and I got to Philly and realized I didn’t have my medication,” he said.
He visited a pharmacy late at night and, after dealing with his insurance company, had to pay $3,500 for the prescription. He was frustrated, both by the inconvenience of being unable to simply get a single replacement pill, and by the high cost, which he would have been unable to afford three years ago.
“How the fuck do I have $3,500 sitting around in my fucking checking account?” Van Ness added, noting three years ago — before he appeared on “Queer Eye” — his financial situation was much different.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that skipping dosages could give “HIV the chance to multiply rapidly,” which could weaken the immune system, and goes on to say that in most cases individuals who miss a dose can “take the medicines as soon as you can ... (unless your pharmacist or health care provider has told you something different).”
On Wednesday, Van Ness tweeted about his support for Warren, writing that health care “shouldn’t be for profit, ever, it’s a human right.”
Van Ness then tweeted a video of a phone call he had with Warren, in which he describes how impressed he was with her remarks on health care at the Democratic debate on Sept. 12, where the candidate also discussed high prescription drug costs.
Warren supports the “Medicare for All” proposal introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which would provide all Americans health care through the government.
She has received some criticism for not releasing her own health care plan and, when asked after the debate if she is going to, Warren said, “I support Medicare for All, I think it’s a good plan. ... Other things that people have come up with, when they’re good plans, let’s do it. This isn’t some kind of contest, ‘I gotta think of mine first,’ it’s what best for the American people.”
In his Build Series interview, Van Ness addressed the dangers of HIV stigmatization, noting that there’s “so much more work to be done.”
He said he reads stories of people “dying from HIV/AIDS-related deaths all over the world, due to lack of treatment, stigmatization, no access to facilities...”
“If I was in one of those places, the person that people love so much, the ball of sunshine ... If I was born 20 years before I was born there’s a really good chance that I wouldn’t be here,” he said.