Stars of HIV Activism: Influential Celebrities Promoting HIV Awareness

Annie Lenox


Annie Lenox brings passion and tenacity to everything she does, and her work in HIV activism is no different. The vocal powerhouse has championed many causes and is a celebrated social activist who has worked tirelessly to give a voice to women and children living with HIV in Africa and throughout the world. The U.N. ambassador launched the SING campaign, which works to raise support for HIV-positive women and children in Southern Africa. She also recruited 23 prominent female vocalists to contribute to the song “Sing,” which raised money and awareness for the HIV and AIDS organization, Treatment Action Campaign.




The Material Girl was anything but that when she first lent her support to HIV patients in a time when most people treated a person with AIDS like a pariah. Madonna’s dance teacher was HIV-positive, and when he publicly divulged that he had the virus, the two appeared together at a 1989 Dance-a-Thon to support AIDS Project LA. Her support early on, during the height the HIV epidemic, even led people to believe Madonna was HIV-positive. The rumors didn’t stop her then, and they certainly aren’t stopping her now, as she works with her organization, Raising Malawi, and continues to advocate for those who live with HIV in Africa and around the world.




Sir Elton John



Sir Elton John has always been outspoken, which is why he wasn’t afraid to fight HIV and AIDS in a time when many celebrities were afraid to be attached to the disease. In 1992, he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which supports HIV prevention, education, and supports people living with HIV. John was inspired to start the organization by his young friend Ryan White, who died of AIDS complications in 1990 after being infected with HIV through a blood transfusion. Today, the organization is as strong as ever and has raised over $321 million in over 55 countries to date.



Alicia Keys


Alicia Keys has stood up against HIV and AIDS through her organization Keep a Child Alive, which promotes prevention and treatment in Africa. But when the R&B songstress teamed up with the Empowered Project, she became the new voice of HIV awareness for women in the U.S.

“Talking about HIV/AIDS, you know, it’s critical and it is our generation’s issue and if we don’t talk about it now, it’s going to continue,” she told ABC News. “We tend to have a good international dialogue, like a good, healthy dialogue, but we’re not really discussing it in America. … We have to learn as much as we can and we have to share with as many people we can.”

Magic Johnson


After acquiring HIV in 1991, the legendary basketball player became one of the strongest advocates of HIV/AIDS since the disease became prominent in the early 80’s.

He said he did this, not only to put a “real face” to the malady, but to show people that the health issue was not just a “gay disease”, as many have incorrectly assumed since the beginning of the crisis.


Sheryl Lee Ralph


The former ‘Moesha’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ actress created the Diva Foundation in memory of friends who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, and also sits on the board of several organizations that are fighting for a cure to eradicate the disease from the world.




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