Even in 2020, the stigma around HIV and AIDS is strong, fortified over decades. Javier Muñoz calls it “a wall of stigma.” But if that stigma is a wall, Muñoz is a bulldozer.
The Broadway actor, famous for his leading roles in the Tony Award–winning musicals In The Heights and Hamilton, has been living with HIV for 17 years and thriving. “I am damn healthy,” he says with pride. “I guarantee I am healthier than the person who's HIV, negative, walking around and not caring about what they're eating and not exercising and not doing anything for their health and wellness. There is a new way to live with this. I'm thriving and it's possible. And I'm not the only one.”
In fact, if you met Muñoz, you’d likely be surprised to learn his status. “It astounds me the amount of ignorance that still exists around HIV and AIDS,” Muñoz says. Which is why he has dedicated his life to artistry and activism.
In the exclusive video above, Muñoz shares his story: from his upbringing as a gentle and sensitive science nerd in a tough neighborhood to his first love, from receiving his diagnosis to becoming a Broadway star. And, of course, he tells this story through music, encapsulating his young experiences in the song “Need to Know” and his hope for the future in “The Quest” from Man of La Mancha.
Watch the full video above to hear Muñoz’s story. It’ll light you on fire.