Free Press Journal

Freddie Mercury to Arthur Ashe: 10 famous people who lost their lives to AIDS


AIDS, the non-curable disease, only goes with death. AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV. Without treatment, an HIV-infected person can live for 9-11 years. Even after decades, ‘HIV’ remains a threatening reality.

The threatening disease was first recorded 30 years back after which more than 36 million people in the world have died because of AIDS. HIV and AIDS do not discriminate when it comes to income, race or sexuality. It’s not true that HIV affects only the poor people or lower class of society because of being unhealthy. There are many celebrities who got affected with HIV-AIDS and died. It can happen to anyone. Meanwhile, for now, here is a list of those celebrities who lost their battle with AIDS and died and of some who defeated HIV with their will power.

Anthony Perkins


This face has haunted women in their bathroom since they saw him in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. Anthony Perkins is the same guy who essayed the role of the homicidal maniac in the flick. A multi-talented personality, Perkins also released three pop music albums and gained international fame through it. Perkins was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989 but kept it a closely guarded secret for fear of losing work. He was said to have been a bisexual and had relationships with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter as well as dancer Rudolf Nureyev. They, too, contracted AIDS.

Freddie Mercury

Farrokh Bulsara, more famously known as Freddie Mercury, the lead vocalist of Queen has to be the most famous icon to have suffered from HIV. A homosexual, Freddie kept the disease a secret after contracting it in 1987, until media pressure made him eventually announce it on November 23, 1991. He died soon after the announcement on November 24. Freddie Mercury’s death shed a much-needed light on the issue of AIDS and its magnitude increased tenfold after his death. An added effort was put into knowing more about the disease and spreading knowledge among masses.

Nisha Noor

The Tamil film actress Nisha Noor has done many hit films like ‘Kalya Agathigal’ and ‘Iyer-The Great’. She has also romanced superstars like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. It is alleged that producer of Iyer the great R. Mohan forced her into prostitution after which she left the Tamil film industry. Nisha was diagnosed with AIDS and she died in the year 2007 at a local hospital in Tamil Nadu.

Rock Hudson

Hudson was Hollywood’s ultimate leading man throughout the 1950s and ’60s, romancing some of the industry’s most beloved actresses on-screen, such as Doris Day, Julie Andrews, and longtime friend Elizabeth Taylor. He was briefly married in order to mask his homosexuality. Hudson died of AIDS-related complications in 1985. His death caused a mini-panic in Hollywood, as one of his last roles, on the prime-time soap Dynasty, required a long kiss with co-star Linda Evans (Evans was, obviously, fine and not angry at Hudson for not disclosing his HIV status). Hudson was the first major Hollywood star to die of the illness. In response to the loss of her beloved friend, Taylor cofounded the American Foundation for AIDS Research and later the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was the first African-American tennis player to be selected to the US Davis Cup team and the only black man ever to win singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Arthur reportedly contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during a heart surgery and he announced his illness in 1992 before finding Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993. And after Ashe’s death, President Bill Clinton honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts to eradicate HIV and AIDS, and for his battle to end discrimination in sports.

Elizabeth Glaser

Glaser became a leading AIDS activist after she received an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion while giving birth to her daughter Ariel. Ariel later died after contracting the illness through breastfeeding, and Glaser’s son Jake contracted it in utero. After Ariel’s death in 1988, Glaser cofounded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to raise awareness about HIV in children. At the time of Ariel’s death, Glaser told The New York Times, “She taught me to love when all I wanted to do was hate. She taught me to help others when all I wanted to do was help myself.” Glaser died in 1994 of AIDS-related complications, but her legacy lives on. The foundation reached an estimated 20 million women worldwide, testing 17 million, and enrolling more the 2.2 million in its HIV care and support program.

Keith Haring


The work of this kind-hearted, Pennsylvania-born artist would come to represent much of the visual aesthetic of the 1980s. After moving to New York City, Haring painted his joyful, faceless creatures on the city’s subways. His work began getting national attention as the decade progressed, as galleries began showcasing his work and he developed friendships with high-profile figures like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Madonna. Haring’s images took on more political dimensions as he began rallying against apartheid and the ravages of AIDS, to which he eventually succumbed. Before his death in 1990, Haring shared his artwork on school buildings and hospital walls, and established a foundation devoted to providing funding for AIDS efforts.

Brad Davis

Brad Davis was an American actor, he is most commonly known for his brilliant performance in the film ‘Midnight Express’. In the year 1985, Davis was diagnosed with HIV virus but he never spoke about it publically. In his autobiography, he wrote that he never wanted his family to know about his illness that’s why he always kept silence about it. Brad was continuously consuming narcotic drugs, even after diagnosed by AIDS. On 8th September 1991, he died in surroundings of his family and friends.


Eazy-E was part of the influential rap/hip-hop group NWA, rhyming alongside Dr Dre and Ice Cube. During the time when NWA was gaining popularity, Eazy-E invested in Ruthless Records and became known as the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap.” After a falling out, the group disbanded and Eazy went on to have a moderately successful solo career. Eazy died in 1995 of AIDS complications, only a month after his diagnosis. Shortly before he died, he released a statement to fans saying, “I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late. I have learned in the last week that this thing is real, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone.”

Lance Loud

Loud became part of one of the world’s first reality shows when PBS aired An American Family in 1973. Lance, the eldest son of the Loud family, came out to an estimated 10 million viewers during the second episode and changed the television landscape forever. Later, Loud moved from California to New York, formed a band called the Mumps, and eventually settled into his status as a gay icon. Loud died in 2001 of liver failure caused by hepatitis C and HIV. In 2011, HBO films made Cinema Verite, a film about the making of the original PBS documentary series, starring Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, James Gandolfini, and Thomas Dekker as Lance.