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Arthur Ashe | Celebs with HIV

Arthur-Ashe-killed-by-AIDSWinning a championship at Wimbledon is the most coveted win for tennis players.  In 1975 tennis star Arthur Ashe became the first African American athlete to win it.  After the match, Ashe said in an interview:

“I always thought I would win because I was playing so well and was so confident.” (source)

Though he broke barriers with his Wimbledon championship, Ashe was known for a lot of other things, including protesting against the Bush administration for the rights of Haitian refugees and raising awareness of HIV and AIDS, which he suffered from.

Ashe’s Battle With AIDS

During heart bypass surgery in 1983, Ashe received a blood transfusion that carried the HIV virus.  He wasn’t diagnosed until 1988 but chose to keep his condition under wraps.  It wasn’t until 1992 that he went public and immediately began raising awareness of the deadly disease.

AIDS Foundation

Toward the end of his life, Ashe became a face for the fight against HIV.  He organized a philanthropic effort that raised $5 million for fighting AIDS.  He could be seen on billboards and advertisements offering courage to those who suffered as he did. 

“The foundation was something I always knew I wanted to do, long before I went public on April 8,” Ashe said.

Ashe passed away on February 6, 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia. (source)

Ashe’s Legacy

Though he was known for his struggle with AIDS, Ashe’s legacy rests with his natural talent and tennis skills.  You don’t just start off a career by winning Wimbledon.  Ashe came up the ranks like everyone else in sports.  He began playing tennis as a seven-year-old.  In 1958 he reached the semi-finals of the national juniors championship.  His skills impressed scouters and he won a full-ride scholarship to UCLA in 1962.  In 1968, he became the first African American to win a grand slam.  And in 1970 he won the Australian Open.

Countless more accolades came to Ashe throughout his lifetime.  He’s an all-time great athlete who we still remember today. But he’s also an all-time great man that suffered from a deadly disease that still impacts many. He never cowered and was an inspiration to the end.

Ashe’s story goes to show that nobody is immune to contracting HIV. A rapid HIV test can determine if you carry the virus and results are ready within 20 minutes or less. New treatment is available to prolong life, prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS and stopping the spread of the HIV virus. To be tested for HIV, find the nearest TEST SMARTLY LABS to you.

posted in Celebs with HIV and have Comments (9)


  1. Comment by TEST SMARTLY LABS of Altamonte Springs on November 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    It gives me chills to think that I or someone I know could someday contract HIV through a blood transfusion. I hope that with today’s technology that there is a 0% chance of that happening now.

  2. Comment by American Behavioral Clinics on November 16, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Another good reminder that it can happen to any of us, and that it can happen in ways other than sexual intercourse. Great post!

  3. Comment by Cathryn Farley Photography on November 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    It’s inspiring that he stepped up to be a voice for everyone with HIV. Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. Comment by TEST SMARTLY LABS Greenville SC on November 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    It is sad that people like Arthur Ashe had to pay the price for the advancement in medical knowledge. He did nothing to deserve the disease, but because of people like him more is known and more people can be protected against it.

  5. Comment by TEST SMARTLY LABS of Seattle on November 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Without people like Arthur Ashe, the awareness of this disease wouldn’t be where it is today. He is the epitome of “when life gives you lemons”.

  6. Comment by Fletcher, Rohrbaugh, & Chahine on November 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Ashe was definitely an inspirational figure. What a shame that he had to deal with a circumstantial infection of AIDS. It’s great that he took it as an opportunity to do good though.

  7. Comment by TEST SMARTLY LABS of Fort Myers on November 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    So sad that he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. He did some great things with his life though.

  8. Comment by TEST SMARTLY LABS of Fort Myers on November 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    It’s a scary thing that it’s possible to contract illnesses like AIDS from common medical practices. It’s FAR less common for something like this to happen now.

  9. Comment by Damewood Technologies on November 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I always find the cases where an individual contracts HIV though a blood transfusion the hardest to understand. I know at one time blood used during surgery was not properly tested, but I’m not sure when it became standard to test across the board prior to surgery.

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