HomeUS News updateTikTok creator Zach Willmore is vlogging his life living with HIV

TikTok creator Zach Willmore is vlogging his life living with HIV

When Zachary Wilmore received his HIV-positive diagnosis in February, he said he felt like it was the end of the world.

“I really felt like my life was over that day,” the 19-year-old San Diego State University student told NBC News. “It’s very stigmatizing when people hear they have HIV and it’s forever.”

Wilmore flew home from school to Missouri shortly after his diagnosis, seeking comfort in the company of friends and family. After taking time to process privately, he decided to go public, creating daily updates about living with HIV for his TikTok platform, which has 1.7 million followers.

“Today is Friday, February 17th. I am 19 years old. And yesterday, I found out I was diagnosed with HIV,” Wilmore said while applying makeup in the opening post of her TikTok video “Diary.”

“I feel drained emotionally, physically, everything,” he continued.

Since making these day-to-day videos that have garnered millions of views on TikTok. Wilmore has used her social media prowess to educate others about the auto-immune disease, including how the disease is transmitted, the science of HIV medicine, and sharing videos that pay tribute to leading HIV activists and scientists.

“People are afraid of the unknown,” Wilmore said. “Information is power, so I really wanted to help people understand.”

Although he recorded the video as he was speeding through day-to-day life, he didn’t post until a week after his diagnosis, when he began taking medication. Advances in science and technology have allowed people living with HIV to be undetectable and uninfected.

“A mindless zoomer who gets HIV, being able to imagine a future of getting a few extra tests and taking a couple of pills daily, is one of the greatest triumphs of medical science in human history and we have to thank God.” should give thanks daily that this happened,” one Twitter user wroteReferring to Wilmore’s material.

Many have flooded their comments with praise and affirmations.

One commenter wrote, “The perspective you offer will help many people break down their prejudices and help reduce the stigmas that have literally killed so many people.”

Wilmore said that some people have criticized him for saying that he is an attention seeker, partly because of his happy-go-lucky nature when he talks about a disease that is often associated with doom.

“When I look happy in my videos, it’s because I am,” he said. He said that he does not want people to think that he is taking the disease lightly. Rather, he wants to highlight that an HIV diagnosis does not prevent one from living a normal life.

He said he makes these videos to support people living with HIV who may feel they need to keep their status a secret.

“There are many people who will live with this disease and who are going through it in silence,” he said.

Initially, Willmore said, he was concerned that creating content about his HIV diagnosis would obscure other aspects of his identity and life.

Ultimately, though, he said these videos felt liberating.

“It’s been a healing process for me. That’s how I’m dealing with it, and just talking it through has been really helpful,” Willmore said.

He said he wanted to show that, contrary to his initial reaction, being diagnosed with HIV is not the end of the world. After this week, he will transition from daily video updates to weekly updates.

Still, he said, he has thought about having HIV every day since his diagnosis and gets depressed at times. He said he would be processing for a while.

“After the first week, I really wanted to get over it. I wanted to be really good,” Wilmore said. “I will be fine, but I am still a work in progress.”



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