On July 25, 1985, film legend, Rock Hudson became the public face of AIDS after releasing a statement confirming that he had the disease after a lot of speculation about his health. He died on October 2nd of that year. Ten years later both Eric “Eazy-E” Wright and Bobby Debarge died of AIDS related causes. Both men left important marks on black music and the music business overall during their lifetimes, but in 1995 we were having discussions about HIV and stigma, particularly in the black community.
Today, May 11, 2015 is the first day of the trial of Michael Johnson in St. Charles, Missouri. Mr. Johnson is alleged to have been knowingly HIV positive and having unprotected sex with partners who were unaware of his status either willfully or through omission. The case has sparked an intense debate about punitive HIV criminalization laws in the US, and how these laws contribute to the continuing stigma surrounding HIV.
September 25, 2015 also marks 25 years since the release of “Red Hot + Blue” - one of the most significant compilation albums of original music from pop stars of the era specifically to raise awareness and money for HIV/AIDS education and prevention for the Red Hot Organization.