During the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, the stigma that came with the disease often forced people to keep their conditions a secret.

Even the rich and famous had to take great pains to conceal it from the prying eyes of the media and the society at large.

While the stigma never fades away, there is much less of it now than decades ago.

Medical treatments have also improved to the point where people with HIV/AIDS can live long lives despite the lethal virus inside their bodies.

Many celebrities have chosen to be open about it, using their fame as a tool to promote public awareness.

Freddie Mercury was among the celebrities who fell victim to the stigma and was somewhat led to believe that he had to keep the struggle to himself.

Limited medical treatments at that time offered every little to relieve his pain and sufferings from the disease.

Those closest to him were aware of his condition, but Mercury never wanted it to be a burden to Queen and everyone else until his last days.


10 /10 Early Years

Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar City, Tanzania, on September 5, 1946) was one of the most recognizable British musicians, thanks to his flamboyant style.

The dynamic vocalist made his name in the history of rock through his performance as the frontman of Queen and with a string of hits from 1970 to the early 1990s.

His parents emigrated from India to Zanzibar.

As a child, Bulsara lived with his relatives and attended a boarding school in India. He moved back to Zanzibar at the age of 16.


9 /10 Smile And Freddie Mercury

During his teenage years in India, he became friends with drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May. At that time, the two musicians were members of the band Smile.

Bulsara also formed his band called the Hectics, where he was the pianist. When the lead singer of the band quit, Bulsara stepped up to fill the role as the front man in 1970.

Bulsara changed the band’s name to Queen and his name to Freddie Mercury. In 1971, bassist John Deacon joined the band.

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8 /10 Killer Queen

Queen played for the first time in front of the public in July 1971 with the four-person lineup consisting of Mercury, May, Deacon, and Taylor.

The self-titled first album came out in 1973, followed by Queen II in 1974.

Nothing much happened during those early years, but the third album, “Sheer Heart Attack,” would change the face of the British rock industry.

Brilliant compositions like Now I’m Here, and Killer Queen soared to respectable positions in both the U.K. chart and Billboard Hot 100.

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7 /10 International Fame

Freddie’s journey to international fame had just begun. Queen’s fourth album, “A Night at the Opera,” sold even better than the previous release.

The ambitiously written Bohemian Rhapsody proved a great success and became one of the band’s greatest hits.

In 1977, the sixth album, “News of the World,” was a spectacular achievement that broke down a lot of doors for Queen to carve fame in the U.S. and subsequently the world.

The album introduced two ubiquitous anthems: We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You.


6 /10 Contracting HIV

It remains unclear when Freddie contracted HIV. It most likely happened during the U.S. tour, specifically, between July 26 and August 13, 1982.

During a tour break, he took his time to pursue gay sex in New York.

When appearing on Saturday Night Live on September 25, Freddie began to show symptoms associated with recent HIV infection, for example, leukoplakia.

It is also unknown when he first learned that he had contracted HIV.

According to Jim Hutton, his partner from 1985 until his death, Freddie was diagnosed with HIV in April 1987.


5 /10 Bedbound

Several years after the diagnosis, Freddie decided to stop taking AIDS medications, including painkillers. By late 1991, it was apparent that his health was quickly failing; he became bedbound.

Around this time, Freddie would invite his bandmates, fellow musicians, friends, and family for brief visits.

No one realized he was saying goodbye.

In his last days, the terminally-ill star was accompanied by Jim Hutton, Peter Freestone, and Joe Fanelli; all three lived in Freddie’s mansion.

Friend Dave Clarke and ex-girlfriend Mary Austin were also there.


4 /10 Public Statement

On November 21, Freddie asked to see the band manager Jim Beach.

Everyone knew it could only be something of great importance concerning his health. Jim arrived at 10 a.m. and headed straight to Freddie’s room.

The discussion was lengthy, and it was only over at three-thirty in the afternoon.

The lengthy meeting was a hint that Freddie was still capable of rational thought despite his poor health. Jim Beach then came down to inform all about the discussion.


3 /10 No More Medication

Freddie stopped taking his medication after returning home from Switzerland on November 10, 1991. His condition deteriorated quickly within two weeks.

Peter Freestone, a close friend of Freddie’s and personal assistant for over a decade, said Freddie knew his time was coming to an end.

The rock star decided to no longer keep his condition a secret and planned to make a public statement about his diagnosis.

The report was drafted on November 22 and released the following day.


2 /10 The Show Must Go On

Freddie Mercury was still busy recording music until his very last weeks. He lost none of his vocal capability even as his body slowly disappeared.

Brian May recalled a moment when Freddie could barely walk during The Show Must Go On’s fourteenth studio album recording session.

May asked if Freddie still had the strength to sing correctly, but the frontman did the job like nothing was wrong with anything.

The band had made enough recordings for a new album just before Freddie Mercury passed away.


1 /10 A Huge Secret Unveiled

Until the public statement was released, only a handful of people had known about Freddie’s AIDS status.

Even after the announcement was made public, it triggered a shock, and no one knew how to react.

It had always been a massive secret for years until it wasn’t. Freddie took his last breath within 24-hour of the public statement. He died of pneumonia-related AIDS on November 24, 1991.

Queen’s final album “Made in Heaven” was released in 1995 and still featured the late frontman.

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