- Since the HIV and AIDS crisis in the ’80s, stars have come forward to reveal they are HIV positive.
- Today, Jonathan Van Ness, Magic Johnson, and Charlie Sheen are living with HIV.
- “Pose” star Billy Porter revealed this year that he has been HIV positive since 2007.
“I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders,” Porter said in the story. “I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.”
Porter added that he is the healthiest he has been in his life.
“There’s no more stigma — let’s be done with that. It’s time. I’ve been living it and being in the shame of it for long enough,” Porter said.
“Because of the HIV virus I have obtained, I will have to retire today from the Lakers,” he said at a press conference at the time. Sports reporters present cried at the announcement.
It was one of the first times a heterosexual, non-white celebrity had come forward with their diagnosis, breaking stereotypes around the disease.
Today, Johnson is living a healthy lifestyle and works to raise awareness around HIV and AIDS.
“You have to have these conversations because they are important,” Johnson said in an interview with PBS’ “Frontline” in 2011. “Especially coming from me: I am living with this virus. I don’t want [my kids] to ever have it, so I have to tell them … what can happen to them if they do the same thing I did.”
“It’s a hard three letters to absorb,” the actor said in the interview. “It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
Over the years, Sheen has taken a set of medications to manage the virus.
“I feel like I’m carrying the torch,” Sheen told “Good Morning America” in 2017. “For a lot of folks out there that are suffering from the same thing.”
“When ‘Queer Eye’ came out, it was really difficult because I was like, ‘Do I want to talk about my status?,” he told The New York Times. “And then I was like, ‘The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the LGBT community thrive around me.’ I do feel the need to talk about this.”
Since his announcement, Van Ness has been working to dispel the belief that an HIV diagnosis is a death sentence.
“I think the thing that surprises most people is just that it’s a chronic illness and that it’s not a terminal one,” he told Insider reporter Rachel Hosie. “The treatment has come so far. It could be treatable and totally manageable, much in the way that diabetes is. You just need to make sure that you have access to healthcare. So that’s all.”
“I have been living with HIV since 2002, and I’m undetectable,” Muñoz told The New York Times in 2016. “I’m healthy, I’m strong and I’m very out about that because of the stigma still attached to it.”
He continued, “I have this joke — if it’s funny or not funny, I don’t know — but the joke is that I have died several times already, and that’s how it feels. My life completely and drastically changed in 2002 when I was diagnosed with HIV, and then again last year with cancer. And you can’t unknow what you know.”
“It changed my life drastically because it was a weight lifted off my shoulders to be able to finally say it out loud and own it for myself,” Palao told amfAR in 2017. “It also became an inspiration for others to live out loud about being HIV positive. I’m happy to have helped people come to terms, like I did, with their status.”
Palao also appeared in the 2020 all-star season of “Drag Race,” but he has devoted his career to raising awareness for this disease.
“While testing is becoming more and more accessible, it’s important that we continue to talk about it and spread the importance of knowing one’s status,” Palao said. “At the same time, we need to advocate for protected sex. I know and understand that this might be easier said than done, but there’s a power when your voice is loud and you continue to talk about it and I’m hoping that my voice is.”
“I went in for a regular checkup,” he said in the interview. “You know, as a responsible gay man, you’re getting an HIV test done every six months … And you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles, or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV … It’s backwards. You’ve spent so much time terrified that you’re going to get it, and then you have it. You don’t have to be terrified anymore.”
Pintauro said he told his husband that he was positive before they even kissed and now hopes gay men are just as open about their diagnosis.
“It is definitely one of my life regrets that I wasn’t able to take that [responsibility] on,” Pintauro told People in 2015. “So now that all of this is happening, I feel like the fates are telling me that this is my opportunity to be that beacon of light, and I’m going to do everything and anything I can to live up to that.”
“It was the sickest time of my life, both psychologically and physically,” Panozzo told Out magazine in 2017, “but that’s where I found the strength to say, ‘I can no longer live this life as a closeted man, so I’m willing to leave this band.'”
He eventually came out and told the world he was HIV positive. After getting himself healthy, Panozzo is still touring with Styx and hoping to be a role model for the younger LGBTQ community.
“When I go onstage I never know who’s going to be out there,” he told Out magazine. “But if there’s a young gay man who’s gone through the same thing I have, I’d like him to think, ‘If he can do this, then why can’t I?'”
“Following enormous conjecture in the press, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private in order to protect the privacy of those around me,” Mercury said in the statement. “However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join with me, my doctors, and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.”
The rock legend passed just 24 hours later. He was 45.
“I’m not religious, but wrong or right, that’s me,” Wright said in his statement. “I’m not saying this because I’m looking for a soft cushion wherever I’m heading. I just feel I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. I’ve learned in the last week that this thing is real and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone.”
The rapper died on March 26, 1995, aged 30.
“Since Hudson made his announcement, more than $US1.8 ($AU3) million in private contributions (more than double the amount collected in 1984) has been raised to support AIDS research and to care for AIDS victims (5,523 reported in 1985 alone),” People magazine wrote at the time. “A few days after Hudson died, Congress set aside $US221 ($AU309) million to develop a cure for AIDS.”