The HIV virus specifically targets and attacks the immune system. After an individual has been infected with HIV for a prolonged period, it can lead to the development of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).
Many famous celebrities have died from AIDS, but not everyone who has HIV develops the disease. HIV, which spreads through bodily fluids and infects vital T-cells, causes immune system failure, allowing other diseases like cancer and pneumonia to thrive.
Which celebrities are infected with HIV? Numerous public figures, musicians, actors, athletes, and other famous celebrities who are HIV positive who you may be unaware of include:
When is a person considered HIV-positive?
A person is considered HIV-positive when they have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, which are crucial for fighting off infections and diseases.
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1. Magic Johnson
Not only is he a former basketball player, but he is also recognized as one of the first celebrities who openly disclosed being HIV-positive. In 1991, Johnson courageously revealed his HIV status, at a time when there were widespread misconceptions about the virus.
Shortly after announcing that he was living with HIV, he decided to retire from professional basketball. Despite stepping away from the sport, he remains actively involved in the sports world as a commentator. Additionally, Johnson founded the Magic Johnson Foundation, an educational organization committed to preventing the transmission of HIV.
2. Charlie Sheen
Sheen stands as one of the most famous celebrities living with HIV, having been diagnosed in 2011. Initially, he sought to keep his diagnosis private and resorted to paying substantial sums of money to ensure confidentiality. However, in 2015, Sheen made a pivotal decision to disclose his condition on the Today Show, aiming to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic. His admission that he engaged in sexual encounters with women while aware of his HIV-positive status further fueled the controversy surrounding his revelation.
Sheen shared that he became aware of his HIV-positive status after seeking medical attention for severe headaches, initially fearing he might be dealing with a brain tumor.
3. Billy Porter
Billy Porter, known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of Pray Tell in the groundbreaking TV series “Pose,” joins the ranks of HIV-positive celebrities. In a May 19, 2021 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Porter disclosed that he had been diagnosed with HIV in 2007. He had kept this deeply personal information hidden for 14 years, but he shared that his portrayal of Pray Tell, a character living with HIV on “Pose,” had been a source of strength and support for him.
4. Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness gained widespread recognition as the standout star of the Netflix revival of Queer Eye. In a profile published by The New York Times in September 2019, Van Ness candidly shared his HIV status ahead of the release of his memoir, Over the Top. As the new Fab Five rose to prominence and became cultural icons, he opened up about his journey, discussing not only his HIV status but also his experiences with sexual assault, struggles with drug addiction, and the accumulation of various traumas.
5. André De Shields
De Shields, a Broadway icon, boasts an impressive career with 14 Broadway credits and a well-deserved Tony Award. His talents extend beyond acting and singing, as he is also a skilled choreographer and director. After maintaining the confidentiality of his HIV status for over three decades, De Shields decided to share his truth in a revealing interview with TheBody in 2020.
In addition to his Tony Award, De Shields is a recipient of numerous prestigious accolades, including an Emmy, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie, and various other honors, further solidifying his status as a multi-award winner.
6. Javier Muñoz
In 2016, Muoz stepped into the highly esteemed role of Alexander Hamilton in the renowned Broadway musical “Hamilton,” succeeding Lin-Manuel Miranda, the original creator and performer. Muoz made a bold entrance onto the public stage, fearlessly disclosing his identity as an openly gay individual, a survivor of cancer, and being HIV positive.
In an interview with the New York Times in 2016, Muoz bravely shared that he had been living with HIV since 2002, shedding light on his personal journey and experiences.
7. Chuck Panozzo
Chuck Panozzo, the bassist and founding member of Styx, has consistently been an outspoken advocate for gay rights and HIV prevention. In 2001, Panozzo courageously disclosed his HIV diagnosis, later chronicling his journey in a memoir. Despite his health challenges, Panozzo expressed in 2012 that his membership in Styx provided him with immense support and strength. Presently, he remains actively engaged in the battle against HIV, diligently following medication regimens to maintain stability in his condition.
8. Ryan Ong Palao
Ryan Ong Palao, recognized by his drag persona Ongina, participated as a contestant on the inaugural season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” During that season, Palao bravely disclosed his HIV status, shedding light on the topic. Furthermore, Palao made a notable return in the all-star edition of “Drag Race” in 2020, showcasing his talent and resilience. Throughout his career, he has remained committed to increasing awareness and understanding of this disease, using his platform to make a positive impact.
9. Mykki Blanco
After publicly revealing their HIV-positive status in 2015, the rapper known as Mykki Blanco (who prefers they/them pronouns) emerged as a prominent figure among HIV-positive celebrities, actively advocating for individuals living with the virus. At the time, they stood as one of the few black artists in hip-hop history to make such an announcement.
During the 2015 Pride season, Blanco confirmed via Facebook that they were no longer living a falsehood, expressing their authenticity. In that same year, Blanco graced the cover of Plus magazine, shortly after disclosing their HIV status. They also appeared on the cover of British GQ Style’s summer issue in 2021, where, in an accompanying interview, they emphasized the importance of incorporating more sex positivity and HIV education into school curricula.
10. Trinity K. Bonet
Trinity K. Bonet, recognized as a contestant from Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, stands as one of the HIV-positive celebrities.
During her time on the show, she faced personal struggles and battled self-doubt, eventually deciding to disclose her HIV-positive status to her fellow contestants. Bonet received her diagnosis in 2012, two years prior to the premiere of Drag Race’s sixth season.
Renowned for her powerful lip-sync performances, Bonet delivered unforgettable renditions of iconic songs like Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and Paula Abdul’s “Vibeology” during her time on the show. In an interview with NewNowNext, she openly discussed her diagnosis, aspiring to provide support and guidance to others navigating similar experiences. HIV POSITIVE HIV POSITIVE give positive