June 2022, star of Verywell Health

Wonderful. Ridiculous. Jatorra. Real. These are just a few of the words used to describe Jonathan Van Ness, who rose to prominence four years ago as a decorating expert on Netflix’s relaunch. Strange eye. And while all of these things (and more!) Are the last words that best sum it up.

What they are doing is keeping the 35-year-old real.

We were lucky enough to meet Van Ness:

  • TV: See them Strange eye and you’ll see weakly speaking what it was like to grow up in the queer and non-binary genres (they use the pronouns he / him, she / her or they / them).
  • Podcast: It sparked curiosity with Jonathan Van Nessthey regularly share personal stories about their eating habits and fears and worries.
  • On stage: Van Ness takes a comedy tour …Imaginary Olympic Living Room—which also highlights their gymnastics skills, their passion.
  • Memories: Here, they have been the most candid. Their latest book, Love That Story: Gorgeously Observations from a Queer Life, talks about imposter syndrome, LGBTQ rights, and overcoming this country’s HIV policy. Their first New York Times Best Selling Book Abovethey delved into the experience of sexual abuse and addiction.
  • Hair Care: Their hair care line, JVN, brings your grooming experience to your home.

Verywell Health had the opportunity to sit down with Van Ness on our first major issue of digital health prevention. Their openness is not only refreshing, it’s really motivating. We spoke with Van Ness who manage HIV, empower the LBGTQ community to take responsibility for their own health, and make healthy daily choices a priority in their lives.

I was not the most frequent queen of preventive medical visits. But now, I take it very seriously, I also go to the dentist regularly, darling.

Tackling the stigma of HIV

In 2019, Van Ness revealed that he is HIV positive and became an advocate for testing and proper care, helping to address the stigma surrounding this health condition.

Life Changing Day

Van Ness was 25 when they found out they were living with HIV. They were working in a beauty salon and fainted. The next day, they went to a Planned Parenthood clinic to see what was behind the flu-like symptoms. When the HIV test came out positive, they had the answer.

Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman


In fact, before they knew it, Van Ness was not always the best at staying healthy. “I wasn’t the most frequent queen visit to the prevention doctor,” they say. “But now, I take it very seriously; I often go to the dentist too, darling.”

“When I was growing up in the early’ 90s, HIV was something I was very afraid of, ”says Van Ness. “I was so scared around where I immediately faced the diagnosis: I took a doctor and took the medication, stat.”

Early in the diagnosis, an HIV safety net made it possible for Van Ness to get affordable treatment. The protocols vary from state to state, but a safety net essentially focuses federal resources on HIV care and gives individuals access to antiretroviral medication. And while these programs help save lives, they require a lot of hard work on the part of the patient. This can be especially difficult for people with disabilities, parents or people with disabilities.

“Every year, at least in California, you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork and send in your tax information to show that you make less than a certain amount. It’s a lot of hoops to jump on,” says Van Ness. “There are tremendous organizations that help people navigate all of this, but it’s still a big burden.”

HIV safety nets

HIV safety nets vary from state to state, but Ryan White is a great place to start an HIV / AIDS Program (RWAP). This program helps low-income people with HIV:

  • Assist in medical care
  • Provide access to pharmacies
  • Provide support services.

More than 50% of people diagnosed with HIV — about half a million people — receive services each year through RWHAP.

Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman


With regard to specific HIV prevention care, Van Ness believes there is still a long way to go. At the top of their list? Dealing with the stigma surrounding the virus. “We have the medical knowledge to prevent new transmissions of the gut,” they say. “But there’s still so much stigma: it can scare people away from testing. In states like Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, the stigma is even worse: it’s associated with homophobia and transphobia.”

Van Ness says this embarrassment prevents many people from entering pre-exposure prophylaxis (also known as PrEP). “If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically a pill you take once a day, and it can help prevent you from getting HIV; it’s a tremendous medical breakthrough that can reduce your risk by 99%,” says Van Ness. “We’ve been around for more than ten years, but still a lot of people can’t get in.”

The importance of Sex Ed, especially inclusive sex possession

One thing Van Ness says is that sex education would help increase preventive health.

We’re failing young people because we don’t teach them how to have a healthy sex life and how to take preventative measures to protect themselves.

“In many parts of the country, we refuse to teach young people about sex, especially from a queer perspective,” they say. “We are failing young people, not teaching them how to have a healthy sex life and how to take preventative measures to protect themselves.”

In recent years, Van Ness has used their platform to talk about these issues. With them Strange eye She met with fellow actors Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in April 2019 to discuss the Equality Act. This bill would help ensure the federal protection of LGBTQ people. They have also spoken out in elections and advocated for change that they would like to see in the world.

“Right now in Alabama, a law that criminalizes families has passed a gender-based health care certificate for their children,” they say, reasonably angry. “When we talk about preventive health care, we need to talk about the trans community. Research shows that when a trans person receives gender-based health care, life is longer and healthier. ”

Not only do members of the trans community suffer at an alarmingly high rate of violence, but when they are denied attention, they often take matters into their own hands. “They can search for hormones on the black market or even perform dangerous surgeries,” Van Ness explained. “It’s all because in some states people hate the existence of trans people. But being trans is human, and health is a human right. ”

When we talk about health prevention care, we need to talk about the trans community. Being trans is human being, and health is a human right.

So what can be done about it? “If you are a genius and a cisgender and you love to see me Strange eye and ‘Yasss, Queen!’ you are saying, I need to talk to the conservative people in your life who are voting for conservative people who are implementing policies that harm trans, non-compliant gender and queer people. ”

Right now, Van Ness is focused on the upcoming midterm elections. “You can sign up with organizations like Public Action,” they say. Founded in 2016, the organization builds the power of the urban and rural poor and the working class to win change through thematic struggles and elections. “Do some research. Have conversations that make you uncomfortable. Participate. Everyone has to face these struggles, darling, it’s time. “

A Body in Motion

Van Ness believes that preventive health is not just about the HIV situation. They work hard to take full care of their body. Those who follow Instagram will notice that exercise and movement play an important role in their lives.

They did gymnastics as a child and eventually became an animator in high school. “I was really rejected and harassed for being this weird, weird woman,” they say. “Cheerleading gave me an identity, it gave me a group of friends.”

Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman


After school, Van Ness became a hairdresser and says moving her body took her back seat. “It took me a long time to get back to something; I finally found yoga and I’m still very happy.”

Van Ness still finds time to take turns, even as part of his comedy routine, while they’re on tour Living Room Olympic Imaginary.

The animation gave me an identity, it gave me a group of friends.

While not improving her gym skills, Van Ness is working from home with her husband, Mark Peacock, on a tour they met in London. They both married in 2020 and Van Ness shines brightly when it comes to Peacock. “My husband was literally on the cover Men’s Health“She’s the queen of butt muscles,” they say. “And here I am, ‘Let’s do Pilates!’ He is very supportive and I love him for that. ”

Fueling Fabulous

The couple is also more focused on preparing than requesting delivery. “We would wait to eat and be too hungry, and then we would ask for a push,” Van Ness admits. “When I get hungry, darling, I ask for them as an appetizer!”

Van Ness suspects that this healthy change has had a positive impact on their health. “Sometimes I have high blood pressure, other times it’s okay; it’s white coat syndrome,” they say, referring to the usual syndrome of feeling anxious in medical settings. “When you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, seeing a doctor can be like, ‘Oh, grandpa.'”

In the early days of the pandemic, Van Ness didn’t work as much and regularly demanded food distribution applications, so his doctor suggested getting a blood pressure monitor at home. “He’s been saying this for a while,” Van Ness admits. “When I was 28, 29, 30— I was like‘ Get out of here ’. Then I turned 35 and my attitude changed. I asked for one from Amazon. ”

Your health is a priority; it’s not something to put in your head.

At the same time, Van Ness began to see a nutritionist. “I started to think, it’s probably not stylish to wait until 2pm to eat and live with so much coffee,” they say. “Now I have these vegetable-based protein shakes and fresh snacks that I don’t feel like throwing away, and I’m starting to drink less coffee. I also thought about it a few minutes after Angel [Joy Flores] and I do our weightlifting. ‘ Fans of Queer Eye may know the name: Flores, a powerlifter, appeared in season six. The transgender rights advocate is the coach of the Liberation Barbell Club, an Austin-owned queer-owned gym.

These changes in lifestyle have borne fruit. “For the past seven days, morning and night, my blood pressure has been perfect at 120/80,” says Van Ness.

Van Ness has not always had the healthiest relationship with food and they have spoken clearly about the history of disordered eating. “When you were recovering from drug addiction, living with HIV, and surviving abuse, there were a lot of other fires that I was putting out before I could focus on food issues,” they say. “But now, with my nutritionist, I’m prioritizing eating all day, thinking about how I feel when I eat, and checking with my body.”

Whether they’re working to establish healthy lifestyles, talking about their HIV status, or advocating for the health needs of marginalized communities, Van Ness doesn’t consider it a healthy life. “Your health is something to prioritize, not something to get into your head. Preventive health is elegant, beautiful and wonderful.”

Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman


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