“I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV-positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.”
This was the statement Freddie Mercury released the day before he died. Yes, this man, who happens to be my favorite artist, died of AIDS. He died at a time when HIV and AIDS were feared and misunderstood. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, hate crimes and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS were widespread. They were judged and isolated because people fear that the virus is contagious. People were afraid to touch or even get close to anyone with HIV/AIDS back then. People living with HIV/AIDS were also hopeless during that time. They thought that having HIV/AIDS is similar to having a death sentence. The fear and speculations spread faster than the disease itself. These are, according to Freddie’s band mate Roger Taylor, the reasons why Freddie chose to keep his medical condition private.
Today, there’s hope in HIV/AIDS. The fear decreased dramatically because it can now be treated with the help of science and technology. Just like what we discussed today in our NSTP class, taking a few pills everyday could help strengthen the immune system of the patient and stop the virus from progressing to AIDS. The government, together with other organizations, provide free HIV test and free medications for those people living with HIV/AIDS. Many stop fearing the disease because it’s now just like any other disease that can be controlled with medication. With early detection, proper medication and a healthy lifestyle, people with the virus could live a normal and a longer life. Many people like Magic Johnson have proved that HIV is no longer a death sentence.
But despite all these, prevention is still and will always be better than cure. Like what the speaker shared, the cost of treating those with the virus is more expensive than the cost of having programs that would inform people on how to prevent getting HIV. This is the reason why I think the government should spend more on workshops like the one we had today in order to lessen the increasing rate of people getting HIV in our country.
Freddie Mercury may have not been as lucky as Magic Johnson but his death brought a worldwide concern and awareness of the disease. A year after his death, his band-mates organized The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness that generated several millions of pounds for HIV/AIDS research. The concert was televised in 76 countries and had a viewing audience of approximately 1 billion people. Just recently, Queen released a song that features Freddie’s vocals exclusively for Coca-Cola’s RED campaign which aims to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Coincidentally, today is Freddie Mercury’s 23rd death anniversary. Decades after the first recorded HIV case, the battle continues. More people continue to join the fight against HIV/AIDS. Raising awareness on how to prevent HIV and the importance of getting tested are just some of the ways for us to help fight this disease. Let us join Freddie’s call to fight this terrible disease. Let’s put ourselves “under pressure” as we fight this disease before “another one bites the dust” without feeling our support and concern.