Sharon Stone Says AIDS Activism Destroyed Her Career

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Sharon Stone recently reminisced on the critiques she faced after becoming an activist in the struggle for HIV/AIDS research. The Hollywood icon served as chairperson of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) for 25 years, a position she took after filling in for Elizabeth Taylor at a fundraising event.

Stone revealed that she was at a loss when the organization first contacted her in 1995 to stand in for then-chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor at its famous annual fundraising event at Cannes Film Festival. “I had pretty big shoes to fill with Elizabeth Talyor at amfAR… When I was approached in Cannes, I was like, ‘Can I take Elizabeth’s place?’” she explained.

Sharon Stone says she was not aware of the risk involved

AIDS
BASIC INSTINCT, Sharon Stone, 1992. ©TriStar/courtesy Everett Collection

The Academy Award nominee discussed the offer from amfAR with her then publicist, Cindy Berger, who warned her of the unfair consequences she might face. “She said, ‘If you do this, it will destroy your career.’ At the time, you weren’t allowed to talk about AIDS. She got hives on her neck,” Stone disclosed. “I said, ‘I know, but I am going to do it; you’re gonna kill me,’” she replied, ‘And if you don’t, I am gonna kill you.’”

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Stone further stated that she was oblivious to the backlash she would face while trying to make the world a better place. “I had no idea of the resistance, cruelty, hate, and oppression that we would face. So, I put on a hazmat suit and had them show me it [the virus] under the microscope,” said Sharon. “I thought I really need to see this thing that is making everyone go nuts.”

Her stance cost her her career

AIDS
CASINO, Sharon Stone, 1995. ph: Phillip Caruso / ©Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

Despite the uphill battle, Stone decided to stay the course, channeling all her energy in support of research for the medicines that could combat the virus even though her career was at stake. “I stayed for 25 years until we had AIDS remedies being advertised on TV like we have aspirin,” the actress confessed. “It did destroy my career, I didn’t work for eight years. I was told if I said condom again, funding would be removed. I was threatened repeatedly, my life was threatened, and I decided I had to stick with it.”

The activist does not regret her decision

BEAUTY, Sharon Stone, 2022. © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Gratefully, she feels fulfilled knowing that her hard work and perseverance paid off because of the antiretroviral drugs available to fight AIDS, which has reduced the number of AIDS mortalities. She explained that before the development of the drugs, about 40 million people died from AIDS. “Now 37 million are living with HIV AIDS, living functioning and healthy,” she revealed enthusiastically.

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