In an interview with CNN, Mondo spoke frankly about the challenges of living with the disease. Some of his comments:
“A lot of people think that it’s still just a gay man’s disease, which is quite bothersome. Yes, I am a gay man, but there are other people who have been infected and who are suffering from this and I think that ignorance alone lends itself to spreading the disease.
“I also feel like people don’t care to talk about it anymore because there has been some bit of progress in the research and I feel as if people maybe think it’s been taken care of. Yes, there are meds that are keeping people alive for years upon years; but with all the side affects and opportunities for other infections – when you have an immune deficiency it can really hurt you.”
Mondo went on to say that, “Honestly, I don’t think people are educated enough [about HIV/AIDS]. I feel like the conversation about HIV/AIDS has kind of slowed down in the past few years. I don’t think that the stigma is going away at all. If anything, without education, it’s going to only increase and in five years it might be worse than it is now because we’re not talking about it anymore.”
In a recent report, Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported that while more people than ever are getting testing for HIV, one person in five still does not know their HIV status. In Georgia, more than 800 people are on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list after it was implemented on July 1, and the city of Atlanta is ranked eighth in the nation for the number of people with HIV in ratio to population.
“Hope Survives: 30 Years of AIDS’ airs Friday on CNN at 9 p.m.
Top photo: Mondo works on a design during Season 8 of ‘Project Runway.’ (via Facebook)