The Battle of Freddie Mercury

PC: New Haven

Kaitlyn Boeckel
Staff Writer 

On Nov. 24, 1991, Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, died from pneumonia after a long battle with AIDS. 27 years later, and fans are using his memory to point out how far the treatment of AIDS has come and how far it still needs to go. The frontman was 45 at the time of his passing, and due to the stereotypes surrounding the disease, not many efforts had been made to end it.

Freddie Mercury was arguably one of the most influential artists of all time. He was notorious for his vocal range, lively stage presence and his paradoxically quiet private life. Due to the popularity of the band, when his health began deteriorating a few years before his death, much speculation surrounded it. Constantly bombarded by paparazzi as the illness wore on him, Mercury continued to keep his private life exactly that – private – until a day before he died. The statement he issued confirmed the suspicions that he had contracted AIDS, and he asked for privacy on the matter. His death came not even two days later, and many believe that he should have done more to speak out on the matter.

Since the singer’s death, there have been notable efforts made to shed light on the topic of the AIDS epidemic. In 1994, three years after his death and nearly fifteen after the epidemic began, the Broadway show, “Rent” began. The show commented on the crisis, and how a diagnosis was essentially a death sentence, as many didn’t realize until it was too late.

Treatment at that time was lacking and azidothymidine (commonly referred to as AZT) was used to suppress the spread of the disease and prolong the life. A few years ago, Apple began selling red iPhones, indicating that a portion of the cost would go to benefit research of HIV and AIDS treatments. While these efforts have contributed greatly to awareness, there is still a long way to go before a cure is found.

On Saturday, the anniversary of the singer’s death, fans took to social media to speak up about the epidemic and how prevalent it still is in today’s society. Many in the younger generation consider it to be a disease of the past, that was a problem for those alive in the ’80s and ’90s. Considered a “gay disease” at the time, lack of funding for research led to many deaths, and the disease spread quickly, as not much was known about it.

HIV and eventually AIDS are diseases that can affect anyone and can be transmitted through contact with infected blood or through sex. It can also be passed down to one’s children. The epidemic has not ended, as there is still no real cure, only treatments that prolong an early death. Those who treat HIV early on have a better chance than Freddie, whose HIV worsened into AIDS with conditions so painful, that he refused to continue treatment as his life neared its end, as to not prolong the inevitable.           

The recent release of the biography/drama “Bohemian Rhapsody,” has shed light on Freddie Mercury’s life and with it, the topic of HIV and AIDS. Hopefully, this awareness and emphasis on the topic will last, and more will be done to find the cure. In the meantime, remember to get regularly tested for STIs such as HIV, to practice safe sex, and to keep Freddie Mercury alive by living fully.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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