This list highlights their remarkable resolve to living happily, engaging in charity work, and attempts to remain healthy with progressive treatment practices.
Charlie Sheen made headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with HIV. Allegedly, he was being extorted by multiple former partners to reveal his status to the world if he did not pay them hush money. He was also sued by several women for failing to tell them of his positive status.
Experimental Drug Treatment
Further, Charlie has said that he regrets his decision to go off his doctor-recommended regimen of traditional anti-HIV drugs in favor of a controversial experimental treatment in Mexico with a doctor by the name of Dr. Sam Chachoua. Charlie calls the doctor a criminal and a charlatan and claims his treatments were faulty.
A New Side of Charlie
Charlie is now participating in an FDA-sanctioned drug trial. This new drug purports one injection per week rather than daily pills; however, he must adhere to a strict schedule. Perhaps, we will now see Charlie use his celebrity for good and start calling attention to good causes meant to benefit HIV research instead of his usual bad boy antics.
Danny Pintauro is a child actor best known for playing the son on Who’s the Boss. In 2015, he revealed on Oprah’s show Where Are They Now that he has been living with HIV since 2003. Pintauro has said that he fell into an addiction to methamphetamine which led to him having unsafe sexual practices.
He stated, “I don’t want to be a hero. I don’t want to be the role model. I want to be the example. I want to be the example of what can happen if you get into drugs, if you’re being promiscuous, if you’re not taking care of yourself, if you’re not being checked, if you’re not living a healthy, responsible lifestyle.”
Working To End the Stigma
As of late, he has also teamed with an organization called HIV Equal which is a social media campaign and online magazine aimed at changing the stigma associated with HIV. The organization wants to promote a national dialogue about what it means to have a positive status. It sounds like Danny is doing some great work; let’s hope he keeps it up!
Magic Johnson has long been the face of HIV since he announced his status twenty-five years ago during a press conference in 1991. He retired from basketball immediately but ended up playing for the US basketball team during the 1992 summer Olympics. He has consistently engaged in activism work since his diagnosis even forming The Magic Johnson Foundation.
Magic’s HIV Activism
He also briefly served on the National Commission on AIDS, a government committee formed in 1992. In addition, he served as the main speaker for the United Nations World AIDS Day Conference in 1999. In order to treat his condition and to prevent HIV From turning into AIDS, he takes a daily combination of drugs.
Chuck Panozzo is most famous for his work as the bass player of the band Styx. In 2001, he announced that he was gay and had been living with HIV, He has since been involved with a number of HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns as well as gay rights activism.
Rock Hudson was an extremely famous movie star from the golden era of film. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, unbeknownst to the public. Rock passed away from the illness only one year after he was diagnosed in 1985. The truth about his status and his sexuality was not revealed until after he died.
Freddie Mercury was the iconic lead singer of the band Queen. Their music still persists and is regularly heard in various forms of media to this day. In 1987, Freddie was diagnosed with HIV which had progressed into AIDS. During the height of the AIDS epidemic, rumors began to persist about him particularly in response to his gaunt appearance.
Freddie Confirms Diagnosis
Freddie ultimately issued a statement confirming his diagnosis and stating that he did indeed have the illness in 1991. He was one of the first famous people to publicly say that he had the illness. Sadly, he died only twenty-four hours after issuing his public statement. We can only wonder what other music he would have made and what kind of good he could have done within the world of HIV activism.
Anthony Perkins is best known for his portrayal of Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. Perkins was notably bisexual, although he maintained relationships with men for the majority of his life until his late 30s. Perkins was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and passed away from the illness only two years later.
Fear of the Stigma
The world at large did not know about his sexuality or his HIV status. His wife later said this was due to his fear about no longer working because of the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. It is also interesting and tragic to note that his wife passed away during the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Amanda Blake was an actress best known for the television series Gunsmoke. Blake died in 1989 from AIDS-related complications. Amanda had previously been treated for oral cancer. At first, her death was reported as cancer-related through a statement that was released by the hospital and her loved ones.
A Sad End
The truth was revealed when her death certificate was made public and listed her death as due to cardiac arrest due to liver failure and cytomegalovirus hepatitis. This particular kind of hepatitis is AIDS-related. It was eventually confirmed that she died from AIDS-related complications. She never personally went public with her diagnosis.
Mykki Blanco was born in 1986 as Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. and is a rapper and performance artist. In 2015, Blanco took to Facebook to reveal that he had received a positive HIV diagnosis in 2011. Blanco was born at the end of HIV epidemic and much work had already been done against the stigma of HIV.
Working To End the Stigma
Blanco has said that he was initially worried that the stigma of HIV would have a negative effect on his career. Blanco is also notable for being described as gender fluid and self-describing as transgendered and multi-gendered. It is interesting and sad to see how much the effect of this stigma is still being thrust upon the sufferers of this disease, even those of the younger generation. Hopefully more work can be done to change that!
Eazy-E was a rapper famous for being a member of the gangsta rap group N.W.A. In 1995, he went to the hospital because of a cough he could not get rid of and trouble breathing, due to what he believed to be asthma. It was then that he was diagnosed with AIDS.
A Powerful Statement
Eazy-E issued a statement about his diagnosis only a short time later. He stated that he likely contracted the illness from a sexual partner. This was notable because he was heterosexual and AIDS was commonly thought to be a disease contracted only by homosexual individuals or drug addicts. He died only one month after his diagnosis at the young age of thirty.
A Hip-Hop Diagnosis
Eazy-E really did not have a chance to become active in any kind of organizational work as a spokesperson or activist as he died so shortly after finding out he was infected with this disease. It is notable that he chose to be very public with his diagnosis right away and it certainly did a lot of good within the hip hop community.
Robert Reed is an actor best known for his role as Mike Brady on the show The Brady Bunch. In 1991, Reed received a colon cancer diagnoses. When he was ill he refused visitors except for a few close friends and family. He did not want publicity surrounding his condition.
A Brady Bunch Diagnosis
He died in 1992 at the relatively young age of 59. His death certificate revealed the truth of his diagnosis. Reed was HIV positive however he did not have AIDS. He only had revealed his diagnosis to a few close friends and never went public with his status.
Tony Richardson was an Academy-Award-winning director for the film Tom Jones. Richardson was bisexual likely contracted his illness from a sexual encounter. Tony Richardson was also previously married to the very famous actress Vanessa Redgrave. They had two children together including actresses Joely Richardson and the late Natasha Richardson. He never publicly acknowledged his sexuality until he was diagnosed with AIDS and passed away in 1991.
Arthur Ashe was an American tennis player. Notably, he was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team. He was also the only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. During heart bypass surgery, Ashe received a blood transfusion and is thought to have contracted the AIDS virus during this time.
A Tennis Hero
In 1992, he publicly announced his diagnosis and began to dedicate his life to working as a HIV and AIDS educator and activist. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He ultimately, passed away from AIDS related pneumonia in 1993.Truly a remarkable man who did a lot for people with the disease as well as serving as a spokesperson for the general public.
Rebekkah Armstrong is the former Playboy Playmate of the year of the Month during the year of 1986. Some years later she went public with her HIV positive diagnosis. Since her diagnosis she has dedicated her life to working as an HIV/AIDS activist and educator. In 1994, she announced that she was HIV positive.
A Traumatic Diagnosis
Rebekkah stated that she originally found out her diagnosis in 1989, but was unable to come forward as she spent several years engaging in substance abuse due to trauma stemming from the diagnosis. She also came out as a lesbian in the publication, and began to work as an educator particularly aimed at lesbian bisexual women.
Playboy Helps AIDS Education
She is unsure of how she contracted the virus but think it was likely during a sexual encounter as early as the age of sixteen years old. She has also stated that Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation have financially aided her awareness campaigns, particularly those aimed at education programs on college campuses promoting safe sex. She has dedicated her life to helping educate others about prevention.
Steve Moore was a very funny stand-up comedian. Steve was known for an HBO special called Drop Dead Gorgeous (A Tragi-Comedy): The Power of HIV-Positive Thinking that aired in the year 1997. The special centered on his life with HIV and AIDS. He was diagnosed with the illness in 1989.
A Comedian’s Activism
Steve did not reveal his diagnosis until the mid-1990s. He also came out as gay at this time. He had supporting roles in various films and the TV show Ellen. He continued to do small comedy tours as well as work as a speaker on HIV and AIDS. He passed away in 2014.
Comedy in Illness
Dedicating an entire comedy special to the topic of AIDS and HIV is truly a remarkable act and amazing legacy to be remembered by. There is no doubt that Steve has likely helped many people tremendously through his comedy and his speaking, and is a voice and face for HIV/AIDS issues.
Isaac Asimov was a famous science-fiction writer who passed away from AIDS related complications in 1992. At the time of his death, heart and kidney failure were reported as the causes. Isaac’s second wife, Janet, released an edition of Asimov’s autobiography, It’s Been a Good Life. She revealed that the heart and kidney complications were the result of HIV-related infection.
Fighting the Stigma
She further stated that Isaac had contracted the illness during a blood transfusion received during a heart bypass operation he had after suffering a heart attack. Janet wrote that physicians cautioned him against going public citing the stigma that existed against AIDS patients. Isaac’s family considered making his illness public but decided against it until ten years later.
Sean Sasser and Pedro Zamora
Sean Sasser and Pedro Zamora were both HIV positive and working as AIDS educators at the time they first met. They gained notoriety after MTV cast Pedro as the first gay man on MTV’s The Real World. Pedro is also notable for being one of the first openly gay men portrayed in media.
First Gay Relationship on TV
Their love was documented on the show, and culminated in an exchange of rings at a commitment ceremony, which was another first for the media. Pedro died in 1994 at age 22. In his short life he did amazing work for ending the stigma against the diseases and in helping others learning to live a positive life with HIV, even testifying before Congress.
Continued Work as AIDS Educator
After Pedro’s death, Sean Sasser continued his work as an AIDS educator, he served on the board for the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families. Sadly, Sasser passed away from mesothelioma in 2013, which may have been connected to his AIDS diagnosis. Studies suggest that a suppressed immune system contributes to the cancer. He was 44 years old.
Greg Louganis gained notoriety as an Olympic high diver. He won gold medals in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. In 1988 he had an accident and hit his head on the springboard during an event, he suffered a concussion. Louganis had not yet publicly shared that he was HIV positive although he had received the diagnosis 6 months previous to competing.
An Accidental Teaching
As was commonplace during the late 1980s he was placed on the antiretroviral drug AZT. He announced his HIV diagnosis in 1995, and ultimately lost the majority of his corporate sponsors. There was controversy surrounding his head injury as blood got into the water. This brought attention to the way HIV can be passed.
Louganis’ Continued Activism
In this case the blood was so diluted by both massive amounts of water and chlorine and the only way it could be contracted is if a swimmer had an open wound. This incident served as a teaching moment for the general public. He continues to serve as an HIV awareness activist. He has written about his experience with HIV in his autobiography as well as various other forums to spread awareness.