Famous People With HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS. Tragically, many famous people have died from AIDS, but not everyone with HIV goes on to develop that disease. HIV, which is transferred through bodily fluids and infects vital T-cells, leads to the failure of the immune system, allowing for other conditions like cancer and pneumonia to thrive.

Which celebrities have HIV? You might not know about the many public figures, rappers, actors, athletes, and other stars with HIV. Queen frontman Freddy Mercury denied he had tested HIV positive for most of his life. He only confirmed he had HIV, and that it had developed into AIDS, two days before his death in 1991. Other musicians who have suffered from HIV include jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron, rapper Eazy-E, and Creedence Clearwater Revival guitarist Tom Fogerty.

Basketball legend Magic Johnson shocked the world when he announced he had tested positive for HIV. Johnson has been on multiple medications to treat the virus and so far the former Laker has been able to prevent AIDS from developing. Other athletes who have HIV include Olympian Greg Louganis, tennis star Arthur Ashe, and football player Jerry Smith.

Photo: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

  • David Hampton
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    David Hampton is the con artist on whom the movie Six Degrees of Separation was based. He died from complications with AIDS in 2003.

    • Born: 04-28-1964
    • Birthplace: Buffalo, New York
  • Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby was HIV positive. He died of a drug overdose in 2002.
    • Born: 08-04-1959
    • Birthplace: La Jolla, San Diego, California
  • Tom Waddell founded the "Gay Olympics" in San Francisco. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, and he died in 1987.

    • Born: 11-01-1937
    • Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey
  • Musician and activist Fela Kuti died from AIDS-related causes in 1997.
    • Born: 10-15-1938
    • Birthplace: Abeokuta, Nigeria
  • John Curry
    Photo: Associated Press / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
    Figure skater John Curry was diagnosed with HIV in 1987. He died from an AIDS-related heart attack in 1994.
    • Born: 09-09-1949
    • Birthplace: Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Dave Brindle
    Photo: Dave Brindle / Facebook
    Journalist Dave Brindle was Canada's first TV personality to publicly acknowledge that he was HIV positive.
  • NASCAR racer Tim Richmond died in 1984. 10 days after his death, his family reported that his death was caused by complications with AIDS.
    • Born: 06-07-1955
    • Birthplace: Ashland, Ohio, United States of America
  • Bill Goldsworthy
    Photo: NHL / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Professional hockey player Bill Goldsworthy died from complications with AIDS in 1996.
    • Born: 08-24-1944
    • Birthplace: Waterloo, Brantford, Canada
  • Ragtime actor Howard Rollins was HIV positive at the time of his death from lymphoma.
    • Born: 10-17-1950
    • Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Gene Anthony Ray
    Photo: Jeremy Kinser / Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use
    Fame actor Gene Anthony Ray died from a stroke at age 41. His mother stated that he was HIV positive at the time of his death.
    • Born: 05-24-1962
    • Birthplace: Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
  • Anthony Sabatino
    Photo: Fun House
    "Fun House" art director Anthony Sabatino died from AIDS-related complications in 1993.
    • Born: 10-30-1944
    • Birthplace: Texas
  • Billy Lyall
    Video: YouTube
    Bay City Rollers musician Billy Lyall died from AIDS-related causes at age 36.
    • Born: 03-26-1953
    • Birthplace: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Activist and author Vito Russo was the subject of the documentary Vito. He died due to AIDS-related complications in 1990.
    • Born: 07-11-1946
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
  • Ian Stephens
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Poet Ian Stephens died of AIDS-related lymphoma in 1996.
    • Birthplace: Victoria, Australia
  • The actor who played the title character in Predator contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. He died from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991.
    • Born: 05-09-1955
    • Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America
  • Erasure front man Andy Bell has been HIV positive since 1998. 
    • Born: 04-25-1964
    • Birthplace: Peterborough, United Kingdom
  • Actor Leonard Frey died from AIDS-related illness in 1988.
    • Born: 09-04-1938
    • Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
  • Tina Chow
    Video: YouTube
    Model and designer Tina Chow died from AIDS-related complications in 1992.
    • Born: 04-18-1950
    • Birthplace: Lakeview, Ohio
  • Gunsmoke actress Amanda Blake died in 1989 from complications with AIDS.

    • Born: 02-20-1929
    • Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, USA
  • Actor Paul Shenar died from AIDS-related complications in 1989.
    • Born: 02-12-1936
    • Birthplace: USA, Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Michael Lupo
    Photo: Police Mugshot

    Serial killer Michael Lupo died while he was in prison due to complications with AIDS.

    • Born: 01-01-1953
  • Timothy Patrick Murphy
    Photo: Dallas

    Dallas actor Timothy Patrick Murphy died of AIDS-related issues in 1988.

    • Born: 11-03-1959
    • Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Carlos Almaraz
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Street artist Carlos Almaraz died in 1989 of AIDS-related causes.
    • Born: 10-05-1941
    • Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Brad Davis
    Photo: CBS Network / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Midnight Express actor Brad Davis was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. He died of a drug overdose in 1991.

    • Born: 11-06-1949
    • Birthplace: USA, Florida, Tallahassee
  • Colin Higgins
    Photo: 9 to 5
    Harold & Maude writer Colin Higgins died of AIDS related causes in 1988.
    • Born: 07-28-1941
    • Birthplace: Grande Terre, South Province, New Caledonia, Pacific Ocean, France
  • James Merrill
    Photo: Judith Moffett / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    Poet James Merrill died in 1995 from a heart attack related to AIDS.
    • Born: 03-03-1926
    • Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York
  • Square Pegs actor Merrit Butrick died from complications with AIDS at age 29.

    • Born: 09-03-1959
    • Birthplace: USA, Florida, Gainesville
  • Danny Pintauro
    Photo: Danny Pintauro / Facebook

    Former child star Danny Pintauro from Who's the Boss? revealed that he was HIV positive on Oprah in 2015. Pintauro was diagnosed with HIV in 2003, after experimenting with crystal meth and unprotected sex. 

    • Born: 01-06-1976
    • Birthplace: Milltown, New Jersey, USA