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U.S. News

AIDS Claimed Celebrity Victims, but Stars Lead Fight

May 31, 2011

Many high-profile celebrities have used their status to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS during the 30 years of the epidemic.

"Celebrities can speak personally and emotionally," said Anne Aslett, head of the UK office of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF). "This means their influence can be enormous,"

Rock Hudson's 1985 announcement that he had HIV was among the first to help put a public face on the disease; he died at age 59 later that same year. In the wake of his death, John and Elizabeth Taylor worked to raise money to promote AIDS research and reduce disease-related stigma. Taylor regularly organized benefits for the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), which she co-founded in 1985, until health complications prevented her from doing so. She died in March.

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EJAF has raised some $225 million for projects in 55 countries since its founding in 1992. John's "White Tie and Tiara Ball," which he has co-hosted since 1999 with partner David Furnish, is a star-studded fixture on the charity circuit.

Retired basketball star Magic Johnson has campaigned tirelessly for AIDS since announcing in 1991 that he was HIV-positive. "This happened to me for a reason, and I know it was for me to help someone else," he said in a Newsweek story ahead of the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS.

Johnson is focusing on reducing the troubling HIV infection rate for African-American women -- 15 times that of their white peers. "Those numbers really break my heart," said Johnson. "The gay community has done such a great job of getting their message across, and it's worked. But there is still such a stigma with the virus in our community and that prevents any progress."

Back to other news for May 2011

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
05.31.2011


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
13 Moments in Black Celebrity Activism
History's Biggest HIV-Positive Celebrities
More on Celebrities and HIV/AIDS

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