Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. live with HIV today, and about 15% of them (1 in 7) are unaware that they are infected. Many famous people died of AIDS-related complications, and many have been living with HIV for years. 

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s death on Nov. 21, 1991, of AIDS-related complications shocked millions of his fans. He had publicly announced that he had HIV, and it had developed into AIDS just two days before his death.

While many people hide their diagnosis, some have tested positive for HIV and have used their fame as a platform to raise awareness.

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen wearing black specs and black blazer.

In November 2015, Charlie Sheen opened up that he had been living with HIV for at least five years and had paid more than $10m to hide his diagnosis. The Two and a Half Men star has admitted to using many illegal drugs and engaging in high-risk sex with many celebrity and non-celebrity women.

Since then, he’s become a spokesman for a Swedish brand of condoms and a public advocate for safe sex.

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Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

The former LA Lakers Basketball star announced on November 7, 1991, that he was HIV positive and raised awareness about HIV transmission via unprotected intercourse. He has since grown millions of dollars in funding for global HIV/ AIDS research and continues to be one of the most famous people living with the virus.

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Danny Pintauro

Danny Pintauro standing in front of the open door. He is smiling and wearing a black shirt.

The Who’s the Boss actor told Oprah in 2015 that he is HIV-positive, having contracted the virus as the result of unsafe sex in 2003 and admitted to having been addicted to meth. He said he wanted to go public with his diagnosis because “it’s not something people are talking about right now.”

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Chuck Panozzo

Chuck Panozzo playing guitar

A longtime member of the American rock band Styx, Panozzo announced he was gay and living with HIV in 2001 and has since campaigned for AIDS awareness and gay rights. He has chronicled his experiences in the autobiography, The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life With Styx.

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Rudy Galindo

Rudy Galindo holding a bokeh of flowers and is HIV-positive.

The first openly gay skating champion in the U.S, Rudy Galindo, announced he was HIV positive in 2000. While coming public with his diagnosis, he stated,

“I didn’t want to hide this illness. I didn’t want to live a lie. I’ve always wanted to be truthful.”

Conchita Wurst

Conchita Wurst is HIV-positive.

This Austrian singer, recording artist, and drag queen, who came to international attention after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, announced his diagnosis in 2018. He has been receiving treatment for “several years” and wrote on Instagram that he opened up about his status after his former boyfriend compelled him with persistent threats.

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Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson giving a pose by holding his necktie. He is wearing black shirt and black coat. And is HIV-positive.

This 59-year-old English artist, musician, and writer was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and wrote in his autobiography, A Bone In My Flute, that he didn’t expect to live long. He remained creative, working as a painter and printmaker and writing songs until 1994 and returned to perform music occasionally.

Andy Bell

Andy Bell wearing a black t-shirt. There is a blue blackground and HIV-positive since 1998

In 2004, the lead singer of the English synthpop duo, Erasure, publicly announced that he had been HIV-positive since 1998. The openly gay singer, who has been living with HIV for over two decades, stated,

“Being HIV-positive does not mean that you have AIDS. My life expectancy should be the same as anyone else’s, so there’s no need to panic.”

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Jim J. Bullock

Jim J. Bullock smiling

American actor and comedian is a longtime survivor of the virus, thanks to anti-retroviral drugs. His partner of six years, John Casey, died from AIDS-related complications in 1996. Bullock stated after his diagnosis in 1985,

“I’m encouraged by advances in treatment and the success of educational awareness programs.”

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan wearing spectacles and grey blazer, was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

British-born American author and conservative political commentator were diagnosed with HIV in 1996. He is openly gay and has been a daily user of marijuana since 2001. Sullivan became unable to apply for American citizenship for many years because of his HIV-positive status. He obtained a green card in 2011 and was a naturalised US citizen in 2016.

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