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Sharon Stone, 64, recounts how the backlash over her AIDS activism destroyed her career.
“At the time you weren’t allowed to talk about AIDS.”
Stone received the Legacy Award from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 2020.
Sharon Stone, 64, has never shied away from difficult conversations, specifically surrounding health. From revealing her suffering of nine miscarriages to a life-altering stroke, and most recently finding a tumor after misdiagnosis, Stone has shared many of her personal stories in order to have important conversations. She also took on the plight of others, too, by advocating for HIV/AIDS research in the ‘90s. Now, the star is opening up about how the decision to talk about and advocate for those with the disease affected her career.
Stone, 64, told People that she “didn’t work for eight years” after she first took over for friend and then-amfAR chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor at the organization’s annual Cannes fundraising gala in 1995. “I had pretty big shoes to fill with Elizabeth Taylor at amfAR,” Stone said recently at the Saudia Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival.
“At the time you weren’t allowed to talk about AIDS,” she said. According to the star, her publicist at the time warned her that “if you do this, it will destroy your career.” She recounted: “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.’”
After agreeing to take over Taylor’s role, Stone served in the position for the next three years. During this experience, she said she “had no idea of the resistance, cruelty, hate, and oppression that we would face.”
Still, Stone didn’t let the stigma surrounding the virus stop her from making a difference. “So, I put on a hazmat suit and I had them show me [the virus] under the microscope,” Stone recalled. “I thought I really need to see this thing that is making everyone go nuts.”
“I stayed for 25 years until we had AIDS remedies being advertised on TV like we have aspirin. 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,” Stone told People.
The Academy Award nominee said that despite the cruelty she received, she has no regrets. More importantly, Stone pointed out that while 40 million people died from AIDS before antiretroviral medicines were introduced, “now 37 million are living with HIV AIDS, living functioning and healthy.”
In recent years, Stone has taken an absence from the amfAR Cannes Gala. But after six years away, Stone returned to host the event this past July. Her last appearance was in 2014, when she helped the organization raise $35 million in one night. In addition to her successful fundraising, Stone also received the Legacy Award from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 2020.
It’s safe to say that Stone helped save countless lives through her efforts and advocating for HIV/AIDS research. We can’t wait to see what the star does next!
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