South Africa: Mr Gay England brings visibility to HIV stigma

When Phillip Dzwonkiewicz won the Mr Gay England 2018 contest, he wanted to use his platform to talk about HIV. After years of struggling with his HIV-positive status, he no longer wanted to hide.

“I now live one life,” he said. “I live openly and it’s a massive weight off my shoulders.”

The next year, when competing in Mr Gay Europe 2018―he was runner up―he again used the platform to bring more visibility to HIV. “What still surprises me is how people tell me, “You don’t look like you have HIV”. It shows how misconceptions still exist,” he said.

As a dancer and performer, the Londoner-at-heart jumped at the opportunity to be the subject of a documentary. The film, Jus+ Like Me, features Mr Dzwonkiewicz coming to terms with his HIV status and how it affects his relationships with partners and his family. Since its launch, the film has won the European Cinematography Awards, the Queen Palm International film festival and was a semi-finalist at the London Independent Film Awards and ARFF Berlin International Awards. Read more via UNAIDS