Oliver Sim has revealed for the first time he was diagnosed with HIV as a teenager through the release of his new song Hideous.
The xx singer, 32, said he wrote the song to free himself from the “shame and fear” he had felt for so long regarding his HIV status.
Sharing the news on Instagram, Sim said: “I’ve been living with HIV since I was 17 and it’s played with how I’ve felt towards myself, and how I’ve assumed others have felt towards me, from that age and into my adult life.
“So, quite impulsively, I wrote it on a song called Hideous. I thought I could release it in the world and be done with it.
“After playing the song to my mum, being the protective and wise mum that she is, she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
“She suggested that I spend some time having conversations with people in my life first.
“Either people I hadn’t told yet, or people I had told but hadn’t wanted to talk much further on it.”
Sim said he spent the next two years having those “difficult and uncomfortable conversations” which has allowed him to “feel a lot freer” and strengthened his relationship with the people in his life and with himself.
The musician added that he reached out to Scottish singer Jimmy Somerville, whose 80’s synthpop band Bronski Beat’s debut album, The Age Of Consent, was seen as a landmark release for the gay community.
Sim added: “I knew for Hideous I wanted a guardian angel to appear in the song and sing to me the words I needed to hear.
“Not only has Jimmy been such a powerful voice around HIV and Aids for decades, but the man quite literally sounds like a guardian angel.
“I reached out to him as a complete fan boy, but now consider him a real good friend.
“He encouraged me to do the song for myself. And most importantly, he reminded me not to take myself too seriously, no good comes from that!
“‘Am I Hideous?’ feels far less like a question I’m asking the world now. I know the answer.
“As scary as it feels, I’m excited to share this music with you, and I hope you enjoy it.”
Ian Green, chief executive of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, congratulated Sim on the song and the impact it will have.
He said: “Oliver’s exploration of the shame he felt following his HIV diagnosis in his debut solo material will have a huge impact.
“The song Hideous is a powerful insight into the shame and internalised stigma many of us living with HIV experience where we pre-empt other people’s opinions of us to the detriment of our mental health and wellbeing.
“As Oliver shows, you can now live a long, healthy life with HIV and a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your dreams. But that doesn’t mean that diagnosis is an easy one to receive and why we must continue to do the work required to end the stigma still surrounding HIV.”