Rock Hudson's death 30 years ago woke up world to AIDS

(AGI) Rome, Oct 2 - Thirty years ago the film industry lost oneof its most popular and adored stars: Rock Hudson. The actor,whose real name was Roy Harold Scherer jr, was the son of anAmerican father of German and Swiss origin and an Americanmother of a Irish and English extraction. He was nominated foran Oscar for "Giant" and was a sex symbol and idol of millionsof women. He died of AIDS in his villa in Beverly Hills on Oct.2, 1985. At the time, the HIV virus was thought to hit only thelower

(AGI) Rome, Oct 2 - Thirty years ago the film industry lost oneof its most popular and adored stars: Rock Hudson. The actor,whose real name was Roy Harold Scherer jr, was the son of anAmerican father of German and Swiss origin and an Americanmother of a Irish and English extraction. He was nominated foran Oscar for "Giant" and was a sex symbol and idol of millionsof women. He died of AIDS in his villa in Beverly Hills on Oct.2, 1985. At the time, the HIV virus was thought to hit only thelower classes and homosexuals. With his death, for the firsttime a popular, wealthy and officially heterosexual person hadcontracted the disease. Even today, the name Rock Hudson isassociated more with the circumstances of his death than hiscareer, even though he was one of the most famous and adoredactors of the 50s and 60s. The announcement was world news. Hewas the first international celebrity to publicly admit tocontracting AIDS. The news shocked millions of fans and sparkeda wave of panic in the show business world For example, in thepopular TV series "Dynasty" (1981-1989), the actor kissedactress Linda Evans on the mouth. When the news of his illnessbecame public, she was tested with a negative result. His deathhad a profound impact on the way people viewed the disease."The death of Rock Hudson radically changed the perception ofAIDS among the public. Exactly 30 years ago, AIDS stopped beinga 'niche' disease that affected only homosexuals and drugaddicts. It became an evil that did not even spareinternational celebrities like Rock Hudson," Ferdinando Aiuti,Professor Emeritus of Clinical Immunology and InfectiousDiseases at the University La Sapienza in Rome, told AGI. "RockHudson was much loved, especially by women, and he was beyondsuspicion. His death left everyone speechless. I remember thatwhen I heard the news, I was in a meeting with homosexual boysfor a prevention campaign. The announcement of his death reallyshocked everyone." Oct. 2 also marks another importantanniversary, especially for Italy. "In the same year the famousactor died, the Italian anti-AIDS association was founded. Itwas the first such association, which shows how much Italy wasahead of its time in the fight against this disease," theprofessor said.. .