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Thrifty-five years ago, Rock Hudson was the first well known celebrity to succumb to HIV. It would be a few more years before the Black community would collectively mourn the passing of one our own with HIV/AIDS. Disco star Sylvester—who gave us hits we still love today such as “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real”—died in 1988 from complications of AIDS. He was 42.
December 1 marks Worlds AIDS Day and the beginning of HIV Awareness Month. According to the CDC, “HIV remains a disproportionate risk to African Americans. Young African American gay and bisexual men account for more new HIV infections than any other group, and HIV affects African American heterosexual women more than women of any other race or ethnicity. More than 290,000 African Americans with stage 3 HIV (AIDS) have died since the start of the epidemic.”
As we continue educating ourselves on HIV/AIDS and prevention, we honor the celebrities and well known figures who died from AIDS as a celebration of the legacy they left behind.