Openly gay Australian television reporter Karl Schmid has revealed in an emotional Facebook post that he has been living with HIV for ten years.
Schmid, who is a correspondent for ABC News in the US, made the disclosure over the weekend, saying he had been discouraged from coming out by colleagues and by stigma.
“For ten years I’ve struggled with ‘do I or don’t I’? For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, ‘Don’t! It’ll ruin you.’
“But here’s the thing. I’m me. 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 we all want. To be accepted and loved by our friends and family and to be encouraged by our peers.”
Schmid used his coming-out post to encourage others to be proud of their own identities.
“So here’s what I say, stand tall, and stand proud,” he wrote.
“You can’t make everybody happy but you can make you happy. And so long as you tell the truth, you will never have to remember anything.
“Labels are things that come and go but your dignity and who you are is what defines you.
“I know who I am, I know what I stand for and while in the past I may not have always had clarity, I do now. Love me or hate me, that’s up to you.”
He added a message of hope and solidarity for others living with HIV.
“For anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters,” he wrote.
“Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions count. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”
Schmid’s post has been shared and liked thousands of times already, with friends and fans praising his courage in disclosing his HIV status.
“Lots of love to you Karl,” wrote one person.
“Smash down those prejudices with courage, love, compassion and kindness.”