Around 37 million people in the world are living with HIV, and about 1.2 million Americans have HIV.
Not too long ago, getting diagnosed with HIV meant you were likely going to die. But, thanks to advances in modern medicine, HIV is no longer a death sentence.
In fact, many people with HIV lead happy, successful lives.
While HIV is certainly a serious disease, if you’ve recently been diagnosed or know a loved one who has been diagnosed, it’s important to know that there are many people like you living with HIV and leading great lives.
To prove it, check out this guide to learn about the top celebrities with HIV.
1. Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness is currently one of the hottest celebrities at the moment. For those who have been living under a rock, Jonathan is one of the co-stars of the hit reality makeover show, Queer Eye.
In addition to this hit show, which is now on its 5th season, Van Ness also performs as a standup comedian. And, he just released a memoir in which he comes out about living with HIV.
Since coming out with his diagnosis, Van Ness is working hard to end the stigma that surrounds this disease. And, he does so with a lot of grace, humor, and positivity.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson holds a spot as one of the most famous basketball players of all time.
But, Magic Johnson isn’t just a hero because of his skills on the basketball court. In 1991, Magic Johnson truly became a hero to the entire world when he announced that he was retiring from the Lakers because he was HIV positive.
At the time, there was a much bigger stigma around HIV than there is today, which made his coming out all that braver and more impactful.
Nearly 30 years after his big announcement, Magic Johnson is still going strong. Not only does he stay involved in the game as a sports commentator, but he also started the Magic Johnson Foundation, which is an educational organization that aims to prevent the spread of HIV.
3. Freddie Mercury
One of the most accomplished musicians of all time, Freddie Mercury, also lived with HIV.
However, due to the intense stigma at the time, Mercury kept his HIV diagnosis a secret for years.
Just days before his death, however, Mercury announced to the world that he was HIV positive. He was 45 years old at the time.
While Mercury certainly led a troubled life that was fraught with mental illness, there’s no denying that the music he created and the chances he took continue to inspire millions of people to this day.
4. Greg Louganis
Ever since his diagnosis in 1988, Olympic diver Greg Louganis has been a huge advocate for HIV awareness.
When he was first diagnosed with the disease, Louganis felt that it was a death sentence. In fact, in an interview with ESPN years later, Louganis revealed that he was severely depressed because of his diagnosis and that diving was the only thing that was keeping him going.
After feeling isolated for years, Louganis came forward to the world about his diagnosis and his sexuality, with the hope of inspiring others.
Now at the age of 56, there’s no doubt that Louganis has inspired athletes, people with HIV, and pretty much everyone else in the world to lead their best life.
5. Jerry Herman
While you may not know Jerry Herman by name, there’s no doubt that you know some of the musicals he’s composed.
Herman is a legend in the Broadway community as has composed the scores for hit musicals such as Hello Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles, and Mame. He’s been nominated for five Tony Awards and has won twice.
Herman first learned about his HIV diagnosis in 1985. At the time, he was very worried about the diagnosis, as his health was already declining.
However, Herman stayed strong and began doing some experimental treatment.
Today, Herman is 88 and still speaking out about his condition and serving as an advocate to those want more information about the disease. His main goal is to teach others that it’s completely possible to live a normal life with the disease. Or, in his case, an extremely successful life.
6. Chuck Panozzo
Chuck Panozzo is the bassist and founding member of one of the most famous bands of all time- Styx.
However, Chuck is as much of an activist for HIV and gay rights as he is a musician.
Chuck first came out to the world about his diagnosis in 2001. And, like Jonathan Van Ness, he also wrote a memoir detailing his experiences with the disease.
About a decade later, he announced that being a member of the band Styx served as his ultimate source of support.
Without a doubt, Panozzo and his band members show to the world how important it is to support those in our life who are diagnosed with the disease.
7. Gia Carangi
Gia Carangi stands out as the lone female celebrity on this list. However, seeing as men account for 76 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV, this really isn’t a surprise.
While Carangi may no longer be a household name, back in the day, she was the “it girl”. In fact, many people in the fashion community consider her to be the first real supermodel, and there’s no doubt that she paved the way for other big supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer.
While Gia died at the young age of 26 due to AIDs-related complications, there’s no doubt that she’s still a powerful name in the fashion industry. In fact, a young Angelina Jolie even played her in an HBO biopic, which she went on to win a Golden Globe for.
Celebrities With HIV: Wrap Up
These celebrities with HIV prove without a doubt that the disease is not a death sentence and that a diagnosis is nothing to be ashamed of.
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