HIV/AIDS remains a major public health concern and the main cause of death in the world despite efforts to control the disease.
What is also worrying is that since the epidemic’s beginning, black people have been disproportionately affected by the disease compared to other races.
In the U.S., although black people represent only 12% of the population, KFF writes that “Blacks account for a much larger share of HIV diagnoses (43%), people estimated to be living with HIV disease (42%), and deaths among people with HIV (43%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S.”
Among these deaths were some popular black celebrities, Below is a list of black celebrities who died of AIDS:
1. Fela Kuti
The Nigerian music legend and pioneer of the Afrobeat genre was a thorn in the flesh of politicians and oppressors who took advantage of their positions and power to dictate the way people should live and die. He lived and breathed for freedom and justice for the common people.
When he died of complications from AIDS in 1997, more than a million people attended his
The 1960s black tennis star’s life was cut short by blood transfusion that led to AIDS. Ashe was the first black man to win the U.S. Open, indicating that people of color could play tennis and excel at it. After announcing that he had contracted AIDS in 1992, Ashe campaigned for more funding to treat and better manage the disease. On February 6, 1993, he died of AIDS-related pneumonia in New York at the age of 49.
funeral. He left a legacy that has lived on and survived for decades with his songs maintaining their relevance today and his children pushing his signature activism through music as perfected by their father.
3. Alvin Ailey
From extreme poverty in Texas to a leading figure in modern dance, Alvin Ailey died from an AIDS-related illness on December 1, 1989, at the age of 58. The choreographer and activist founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the most successful dance companies in the world. His choreographic masterpiece Revelations is said to be one of the most popular and most performed ballets in the world.
4. Howard Rollins
The American stage, film and television actor is best known for his role as Andrew Young in 1978’s King and George Haley in the 1979 miniseries Roots: The Next Generations. On December 8, 1996, Rollins died in New York City of complications from AIDS-related lymphoma.
5. Sylvester James
The celebrated disco, R&B, and soul legend was known as the “Queen of Disco” for his hit disco singles in the late 1970s and 1980s. Proud of his queerness and artistry, Billboard ranked him as the 59th most successful dance artist of all time. Sylvester died from complications arising from HIV/AIDS in 1988 and left all future royalties from his work to San Francisco-based HIV/AIDS charities.
6.Kevin Peter Hall
The American actor who was often cast in monster roles made his acting debut in the 1979 horror film Prophecy. He is also known for his roles as the title character in the first two films in the Predator franchise and the title character of Harry in the film and television series, Harry and the Hendersons. Hall died from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991 at the age of 35.
7. Willi Smith
Before his sudden death in 1987 at the age of 39, Willi Smith ruled the fashion world with his multi-million dollar business WilliWear which introduced “street couture” fashions. With his clothing found in many department stores worldwide, including England and France, WilliWear sold $25 million worth of clothing a year. At the time of his death, Smith was recognized as one of the most successful African-American designers in the fashion industry.