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Dr. Patricia Shelton

Dr. Patricia Shelton

Jul 06, 20227 min read

Famous people with HIV

The information provided herein does not constitute an expert or medical advice, nor intended to replace such advice.


When someone is diagnosed with HIV, they may feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to worry that you’ll never have a normal life again. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

With today’s treatment options, people with HIV are able to live long and healthy lives. A person with HIV can still live their dreams and accomplish everything they’d like to do in the world. In fact, there are a number of celebrities living with HIV. These people have achieved a lot, and haven’t let their status stop them.

Not all celebrities who have HIV are open about their status. It’s every person’s right to be private about any medical condition if they want to. There could be many famous people with HIV who have not publicly announced that they’re HIV-positive. However, there are also some who have chosen to share their status.

Famous people who have AIDS or HIV

Unfortunately, in the early days of the HIV epidemic, there was still a stigma attached to having the virus. Some famous people with HIV didn’t disclose their status because of this issue. For example, the famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov died of AIDS at the age of 72. He had gotten the virus from a blood transfusion. At the time, if they had AIDS, celebrities (and their families) were generally advised not to share this information publicly. Because of this, the cause of Asimov’s death was not announced until many years later.

Now, more and more famous people are publicly announcing their HIV-positive status. Many of them say that they’re doing so in order to help break the stigma attached to HIV, and to demonstrate that people with HIV can live amazing lives despite their status.

Here, we aren’t providing an exhaustive list of HIV positive celebrities. There are simply too many to list. We’re just highlighting a few of the famous people who have bravely chosen to share their status with the world, to show what’s possible for people living with this virus.

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Famous actors with AIDS or HIV

There are a number of well-known Hollywood actors with HIV. Rock Hudson was very famous in the 1950s. In 1985, he announced that he had AIDS, and he died a few months later. This was one of the first times that a famous actor with AIDS announced his status publicly, and it spurred Elizabeth Taylor to become an HIV/AIDS activist after his death.

In 2015, actor Charlie Sheen announced that he’s HIV-positive. Sheen shared that he’s taking ART, and his viral load is currently undetectable. The announcement of his status got a lot of attention, and helped to raise awareness of the effectiveness of modern HIV treatments.

Comedians with AIDS or HIV

Comedian Steve Moore not only announced his status; he used it in his comedy. In 1997, Moore created a comedy special called Drop Dead Gorgeous (A Tragi-Comedy): The Power of HIV-Positive Thinking. In it, he shared about his experiences living with HIV. Moore died in 2014 at the age of 59.

Singers and rappers who have AIDS or HIV

Rap legend Easy-E, a co-founder of the influential group NWA, announced that he was HIV-positive in 1995.  His announcement came at a time when the number of HIV infections in the black community was increasing, and he helped to bring awareness to this important issue. Sadly, he died of AIDS at the age of 31. 

Freddie Mercury, the famous lead singer of the band Queen, died of AIDS in 1991. He shared his HIV-positive status only one day before his death, as there was still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV at that time.

Chuck Panozzo, the bass player for the rock band Styx, announced in 2001 that he was HIV-positive. Panozzo is taking ART and is currently living an active life.

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Sports stars with AIDS or HIV

In 1991, basketball star Magic Johnson became one of the first black celebrities with AIDS to go public about his status. He became an HIV/AIDS activist, working to raise funds for the fight against the virus and also working to reduce the stigma that was attached to being HIV-positive. More than 30 years after announcing his diagnosis, Johnson is still alive and still actively involved in the fight against HIV.

Arthur Ashe, a famous tennis player, announced in 1992 that he was HIV-positive. His announcement came a few months after Johnson’s. Ashe was the first black man to win both the US Open and Wimbledon titles. Although he was initially reluctant to disclose his status to the public, Ashe became a 

Greg Louganis, an Olympic champion diver, announced that he was HIV-positive in 1988. Unfortunately, his status put an end to his career, as people were afraid that he would transmit HIV to other athletes. There was a famous incident in which Louganis was injured while diving, and people were afraid that other athletes would contract the virus, despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted in water or on surfaces. Now, HIV-positive athletes are allowed to compete in sports.

HIV testing

These inspiring stories show that there’s nothing that a person can’t accomplish, even if they have HIV. If you think that you might be at risk for HIV, then you should get an HIV test. Many people with HIV have no symptoms until very late in the course of the infection, so the only way to know for sure is to get a test. You can go to a clinic, or get a home HIV test for more convenience.

If you do have HIV, you can still do all of the things that you want to do, including competing in sports. In general, you won’t be required to tell anyone about your HIV status. (There are a few exceptions; for example, you have to inform a partner that you’re HIV-positive before having sex with them.) Finding out your status allows you to take advantage of modern treatments, which allow people to live long and healthy lives with HIV.

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HIV and AIDS – United States, 1981-2000. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2001). https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5021a2.htm. Accessed 30 March 2022.

Johnson RJ. HIV infection in athletes. What are the risks? Who can compete? 

Postgrad Med 1992 Nov 15;92(7):73-5, 79-80. doi: 10.1080/00325481.1992.11701532.

List of HIV-positive people. Wikipedia (2022). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HIV-positive_people. Accessed 30 March 2022.

Way MT, Ingle SM. Life expectancy of HIV-positive adults: a review. Sex Health 2011 Dec;8(4):526-33. doi: 10.1071/SH11046.

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