Michael Mejia, a former Skin Wars contestant, covers the November/December cover of Plus magazine.

In the accompanying interview, Mejia, a 26-year-old artist, reveals for the first time publicly that he's HIV-positive.

“There are several reasons why I’m coming out.” Mejia told Plus. “One is because people aren’t informed enough about HIV and are still stuck in the trauma that has carried over from previous years. I’m hoping that people will read this, gain perspective and lose the stigma and fear against HIV. Another reason is because I know there are many people out there that have been recently diagnosed and may feel alone—thinking they are the only ones. But the truth is you are not [alone], there are more than 36 million people living with HIV in the world! And it’s OK, we’re all in this together and we need to support each other in any way we can. I want people to understand that having HIV is not a death sentence anymore, it’s a lifestyle that requires a strict treatment regimen and healthy living.”

Mejia, who made it to the top four on the third season of Game Show Network's body painting reality competition Skin Wars, added that coping with the stigma surrounding HIV has been more difficult than accepting the diagnosis.

“Everyone is full of fear when they think of HIV and it’s because of ignorance. This fear is holding people back from getting tested regularly and keeping HIV-positive people from sharing their status. We need to end HIV stigma because stigma is the real illness we should be alarmed by,” he added.