For as long as we’ve known about HIV/AIDS, people have had to handle the reality of coming out as living with HIV. Disclosing your HIV status to family and friends is often difficult and when you’re in the public eye, coming out as living with HIV adds a major decision about whether you want the whole world to know.
Many celebrities have chosen to share that part of themselves with the public. Often, that choice helps the rest of us: By coming out, they can humanize the virus for many people who don’t otherwise know anybody who’s openly living with HIV. They can help increase awareness and fight stigma.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most famous black people living with HIV.
At the time of the radio host and social media star's diagnosis 15 years ago, there was little hope for expectant mothers and their children. Criselda sits on the South African National Aids Council board and has three children.
Musa ‘Queen’ Njoko
Famous gospel singer Musa Njoko has been living with HIV for almost two decades at this point.
She said that she had fought the sickness for years despite being told months to live.
"He was barely 2 when I got HIV. My situation was terminal at the time. By God's grace, she's seen him start school and become a worldwide celebrity performing an ad for Oros.
Magic Johnson has AIDS. He revealed himself in 1991. Magic also caught the infection. He says he slept with multiple women as a basketball player.
I'm sure I got HIV via unprotected intercourse with an HIV-positive lady. I can't place the time or woman. Numbers matter. Before marriage, I was a bachelor. As I traveled to NBA cities, I never lacked female companionship. "When I came in L.A. in 1979, I tried to accommodate as many ladies as possible, mostly through unprotected intercourse," he said.
I'd often wondered what it was like to be with several women. I've arranged similar evenings with two or more women. It's evident how I acquired HIV. He answered, "I don't know who handed it to me."
Actress Saidy Brown, now 23 years old, is one of several Mzansi celebrities living with HIV. At 14, she learned she had the virus. Her parents died from the sickness. Her father died when she was 9 and her mother a year later.
Her school's HIV test revealed her status. She was surprised by the results and hid them for six months before contacting her aunt, who informed her about her parents and how she may have become sick. She lived in denial for two years and didn't start taking medicine until her body deteriorated at 16 years old.
Vocalist Saidy Brown feels she was born for a reason since she didn't die soon after birth like many HIV-positive babies. She never hesitates to tell potential dates about her HIV status, despite being rejected.
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