The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) strikes anyone – young and old, the rich or poor, the famous and unknowns. The nameless victims who get infected go unnoticed, but celebrities who do, always get the world’s attention. This is a list of the top 10 celebrities who are known to have or to have had the virus known as HIV, including those who have died (whether from AIDS or another cause).
1) Rock Hudson – Iconic Hollywood leading man, the first major American celebrity whose AIDS diagnosis was made public. Unquestionably, he was one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of his time. The public got a double shock when it was revealed he had AIDS and was gay. In 1985, Hudson died at the age of 59.
2)Freddie Mercury – Queen’s lead singer noted for his vocal abilities and his charisma. His death led to The Mercury Phoenix Trust anti-AIDS charity and the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. Died in 1991 at the age of 45 and was inducted into Rock and Roll’s Hall of Fame in 2001.
3)Liberace – Flamboyant Las Vegas singer and piano player known for candelabras, lavish costumes, exotic cars and kitchy homes. In the ’70s and 80s, Liberace was a major box office attraction in Las Vegas. In 1987, he died due to complications from AIDS.
4)Arthur Ashe – one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Was the first African-American to win a Grand Slam and he went on to collect three. Ashe transcended tennis to become a social activist who led public protests against apartheid in South Africa; became infected with HIV via transfusion during heart surgery. This Tennis Hall of Famer died in 1993 at the age of 49.
5) Isaac Asimov – famous science fiction writer and biochemist. Two of his works were turned into highly successful films – I, Robot and Bicentennial Man. Asimov, who was also popular for his science books, became infected by transfused blood during heart surgery.
6) Earvin “Magic” Johnson – One of the greatest NBA players of all time, Johnson is widely considered as the best point guard ever to play the game. Since publicly announcing he had been infected with the virus HIV, Johnson continues to be an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex.
7)Greg Louganis – Olympic gold medalist in diving. Was the most outstanding amateur athlete in 1984 and went on to win back-to-back Olympic golds in both the 3m and 10m diving events. Following the announcement of his HIV status in 1995, Louganis was dropped by majority of his corporate sponsors. Since retiring from diving, Louganis has ventured into acting mostly in off-Broadway plays.
8)Tommy Morrison – world champion boxer better known for his role as Tommy Gunn in Rocky V. In 1996 it was revealed he was HIV-positive which automatically retired him from boxing as a competitor. Currently, he is pursuing a career in Mixed Martial Arts and is trying to mount a comeback in boxing.
9)Ryan White – expelled from high school because of his infection which he got from contaminated blood during treatment. White, who was a hemophiliac, became a poster child for HIV/AIDS at a time when the public knew very little about the disease. White made many celebrity friends including Michael Jackson whose song “Gone Too Soon” was a tribute to the teenage AIDS victim. White died in 1990 at a young age of 18.
10) Esteban De Jesus – a world lightweight champion boxer from Puerto Rico. Famous for his trilogy with Roberto Duran, “Vita” had a life full of controversy, problems and scandals. Sentenced to life in jail for murder, he became a preacher and started to turn his life around. De Jesus acquired HIV and succumbed to full-blown AIDS in 1989.