actor charlie sheen
1 / 8

Charlie Sheen

In November 2015, this actor revealed that he'd been living with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- for at least 4 years. He said he didn't know how he got it, and he admitted he'd paid people more than $10 million not to tell anyone he had it. Since then, he's become a spokesman for a Swedish brand of condoms and a public advocate for safe sex. 

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rapper eazy e
2 / 8


This rapper from the group N.W.A. -- the subject of the movie Straight Outta Compton -- died in 1995 at 31, just a few weeks after learning he had AIDS. He didn't say how he got it, but he told the L.A. Times, "I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good to me." His wife, whom he married just before his death, and his infant son didn't get the virus. 

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writer isaac asimov
3 / 8

Isaac Asimov

The heart and kidney failure that killed the legendary science fiction writer in 1992 were caused by AIDS. He got HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983. It wasn't revealed publicly until his book It's Been a Good Life was published in 2002. It was written by Asimov before his death and edited by his wife after he died.

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actor danny pintauro
4 / 8

Danny Pintauro

Best known for his role as one of the kids in the '80s sitcom Who's The Boss?, Pintauro has been HIV positive since 2003. He says he got the virus while using the powerful street drug crystal meth, which can lead to risky behavior and may make your immune system weak.

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singer andy bell
5 / 8

Andy Bell

Just before Christmas 2004, the lead singer of the band Erasure said he and his boyfriend were HIV-positive. He told HIV Plus magazine that he'd known for more than 6 years but waited to talk about it because he didn't feel ready. His boyfriend -- and the band's manager -- Paul Hickey wrote about their battle with the virus in the book Sometimes: A Life of Love, Loss & Erasure. Hickey died in 2012.

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basketball great magic johnson
6 / 8

Magic Johnson

The basketball legend announced he was HIV-positive in October 1991. The news was a wake-up call to straight men who thought they weren't at risk for the disease. Johnson retired from the L.A. Lakers but played in the 1992 NBA All-star Game and helped the U.S. Olympic Team take the gold later that same year. Since then, he's worked to educate people about HIV and AIDS.

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musician chuck panozzo
7 / 8

Chuck Panozzo

In 2002 article for The Advocate, the bass player for the band Styx wrote: "When I was diagnosed 10 years ago, there was a lot of suffering in the gay community. Many people I knew died prematurely. … A whole segment of America was shunned because politics and religion got involved. That's an outrage." Panozzo is a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign and speaks about HIV/AIDS issues.

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tennis champion arthur ashe
8 / 8

Arthur Ashe

The man who helped break the color barrier in professional tennis revealed he had AIDS in April 1992. He got HIV from a blood transfusion related to heart surgery. Once he went public, he spent the last months of his life raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and spoke about it on the floor of the United Nations. He died of complications from AIDS in February 1993.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/31/2019 Reviewed by Jonathan E. Kaplan, MD on January 31, 2019


1) Michael Buckner / Staff / Getty Images

2) Al Pereira / Contributor / Getty Images

3) Deborah Feingold / Contributor / Getty Images

4) Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff / Getty Images

5) Noam Galai / Stringer / Getty Images

6) Lisa Blumenfeld / Stringer / Getty Images

7) Daniel Knighton / Contributor / Thinkstock

8) Bill Ballenberg / Contributor / Getty Images



The Advocate: "Styx and stones." "Andy Bell."

Finding Dulcinea: "On This Day: Magic Johnson Reveals That He Has HIV."

HIV Plus Magazine: "Revisiting Erasure's Andy Bell: The Classic HIV Plus Interview."

L.A. Times: "Rap Star Eazy-E Says He Has AIDS: Health: Major figure in 'gangsta' movement says young fans need to know about 'what's real.' He is listed in critical condition."

New York Times: "Arthur Ashe, Tennis Star, Is Dead at 49," "Charlie Sheen Says He Has H.I.V. and Has Paid Millions to Keep It Secret," "Charlie Sheen's Newest Role: Condom Pitchman," "Isaac Asimov, Whose Thoughts and Books Traveled the Universe, Is Dead at 72."

PBS: "20 Years After HIV Announcement, Magic Johnson Emphasizes: 'I Am Not Cured.'"

Publisher's Weekly: "ISAAC ASIMOV: It's Been a Good Life."

USA Today: "Who's the Boss' star Danny Pintauro: I'm HIV-Positive."

Washington Post: "Charlie Sheen says he's HIV-positive, has been extorted for $10 million over diagnosis."

Reviewed by Jonathan E. Kaplan, MD on January 31, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.