Freddie Mercury's HIV Diagnosis – Some Insight – 1985 to 1987

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Leonardo Pelz Stone Cold Leo 82 B.R.

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Oct 2, 2011, 4:52:41 PM10/2/11
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Freddie Mercury's HIV Diagnosis – Some Insight – 1985 to 1987

I was reading somewhere on QZ,,, someone asking about when Freddie knew he
had HIV...

I can tell you that back in the 1980's,a lot less was known about HIV than
we know about today. Back then,you didn't get 1 test and that was it, you
had AIDS. Doctors weren't sure. It usually took multiple tests for a
doctor to tell you most certainly that you had the HIV virus in your
blood. Up until 1985, tests hadn't been widely available to test for the
virus. Up until then, people generally didn't know they had the virus
until they were becoming ill and showing serious opportunistic infections.
Doctors
generally made an AIDS diagnosis based on the patients helper T-Cell level
– or lack of them. So it was hard for a doctor to tell
someone who wasn't sick that they had HIV virus – the first tests just
weren't that accurate.

We will never know exactly when Freddie Mercury first discovered or even
suspected something was up with his health. Fortunately, some of us have
friends who know things about people, and some of those people's medical
records can be accessed years later...So I will tell you a little story ;)

Did Freddie know he had HIV 1984? Most probably not...

In 1984 there was a test in the primary stages of deployment called the
ELISA test & it was being developed to screen out HIV from the blood
supply. It was highly sensitive, and very nonspecific, which means it gave
a positive result easily even when, in some cases, there is actually no
HIV present. It is very unlikely the Freddie's GP would have a offered up
his blood to the
testing labs in Paris. So, based on the fact that Freddie was still
healthy and hadn't changed any of his behaviour by 1984, I don't think he
had any real inkling that he was infected.

1985 - Looking at the events - this was the year alarm bells started to
ring for Freddie. Firstly, this was the year that the
ELISA test had become more accessible and available for doctors in the UK
(and the rest of Western Europe) to test their patients for the
possibility of HIV turning up in their blood. Freddie was still healthy at
this time, or at least he was not showing serious opportunistic
infections. But he may very well have had some of the tell-tail signs of
HIV infection that doctors in the mid-80's began to recognize as
precursors for a person who had the virus, but who had not yet developed
full blown AIDS. Some of these initial symptoms are swollen lymphnodes
throughout the body, night sweats, and a mild to moderate general malaise.
Freddie may have mentioned something to his doctor at one of his checkups
- or his doctor may have had his
blood tested for HIV along with other possible diseases that were routine
for sexually active gay men. If an ELISA HIV test would have come back
positive in 1985, Freddie's doctor would have told him, but would also
have told him of the high possibility of a 'false positive' result - and
would have requested him to do a second, third, or fourth follow-up test.

October 2nd, 1985 – Rock Hudson dies from AIDS.

It is strange that toward the fall of 1985, Freddie suddenly left Munich
and returned to London. Some may say it was because he was ready to settle
down at Garden Lodge. But I know that when Freddie did leave Munich toward
the end of 1985 - it was for good, it was sudden and unexpected, and it
was a life altering move. Something had changed him. He had abruptly cut
off some of his closest friends from that city – Kurt (died from AIDS),
Winnie K (died from AIDS), & Barbara Valentin (to name a few) without even
returning their phone calls or offering any real explanation for the
sudden and drastic departure. Gone too were his one night stands,
recreational cocaine/ecstasy use, and clubbing he had partaken in Munich
(and elsewhere throughout the previous years. Another person that was
suddenly out of the picture...Paul Prenter. Paul had been employed
under Freddie/Queen since the mid-70's and had worked for Queen as
recently as the Live Aid concert in July of that year. He was, in many
respects, Freddie's sexual liason when Queen were on tour. If you wanted
to get to Freddie in a club, you had to go through Paul. Paul, an
Irishman, was tough and cheeky. He was someone who specifically knew
Freddie's
sexual tastes and became Freddie's go between for fishing out anyone
Freddie particularly fancied at a club, but didn't want to bother with the
negotiating of a possible tryst. All I know is that something must have
happened to Freddie in late 1985 that made him ditch Paul Prenter and the
party boys at the nightclubs in Munich and retreat to Garden Lodge. Could
it have been a doctor telling him that he may have the dreaded and deadly
diagnosis that was going to kill
him?

1986 - is where the crap really begins to hit the fan. It was in 1986 that
insurance companies began screening their clients
for HIV. You can bet that all the members of Queen would have taken out
insurance to cover a whole gauntlet of possible liabilities that may arise
in the face of a disaster while on tour. Freddie, most likely, under the
guidance of Jim Beach, took out a policy that would cover expenses if
Queen were unable to take the stage at, let's say, Wembley Stadium,
because Freddie lost his voice due to a health issue.

Health insurance is essential for singers who earn their living from their
instrument. Cover for touring abroad, loss of
voice, accidental injury, engagement cancellations and loss of earnings
will protect the singer if they are unable to perform due to illness or
other unforeseen events. In 1984, the last time Queen started a tour, the
ELISA HIV test had not been available to
Insurance Companies for the screening of their clients for HIV. You can
bet that any insurer willing to cover a voice like Freddie
Mercury's on a Stadium Tour across Europe would want to know every little
detail of their subject's health and the possibility of having to pay
thousands or even millions of pounds due to a tour or concert cancellation
if Freddie became ill. It is almost a certainty that before the beginning
of the Magic Tour, Freddie, whose liability would have been greatest in
the band, would have been tested for many diseases (Now including HIV) and
would have found out that he was positive for the virus. No insurance
company in their right mind would offer coverage to a person with HIV -
especially in 1986 when AIDS was a
death sentence.

We all know Freddie decided to do the tour -even though he would have been
aware of the gamble: if he suddenly
became ill or lost his voice (like in Sun City, 1984) - he would be
screwed financially! His behaviour on the tour seems to back up this
theory. The other band members noticed that something was up with him. He
wasn't out partying anymore. Paul Prenter wasn't hired for the tour.
(Paul Prenter also died of AIDS in 1991) Freddie knew that this tour would
be the last one!

Even though my above 'theory' would have a doctor telling Freddie that he
had tested positive for HIV in late 1985 or early 1986, that doctor would
have told him that the test result may not be so & He would have had to go
for multiple tests - and when test result after test result would have
come back positive throughout 1986, perhaps Freddie didn't want to hear it
again. Perhaps that is why Mary Austin says she received a call from his
GP telling her that Freddie wasn't returning his calls and to tell Freddie
to call back him? (Do you recall a tabloid story in The Sun (sept 1986)
alleging that Freddie had recently
taken an AIDS test and Freddie angrily responding: Does it look like I'm
Dying?)

Early 1987, coincidentally, saw the development of a newer and more
reliable HIV test called the Western Blot. It was a much more accurate
test than the ELISA. My hypothesis is that Freddie was probably alerted to
his HIV status a year and a half earlier in 1985. He had gone for test
after test throughout 1986 and finally, in the Spring of 1987, along with
a lymphnode b

--

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Aug 1, 2015, 9:56:25 AM8/1/15
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On Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 4:52:41 PM UTC-4, Leonardo Pelz The Archivist Leo'82 B.R. wrote:
> http://www.queenzone.com/forums/1288222/freddie-mercurys-hiv-diagnosis-some-insight-1985-to-1987.aspx
>
> Freddie Mercury's HIV Diagnosis - Some Insight - 1985 to 1987
>
> I was reading somewhere on QZ,,, someone asking about when Freddie knew he
> had HIV...
>
> I can tell you that back in the 1980's,a lot less was known about HIV than
> we know about today. Back then,you didn't get 1 test and that was it, you
> had AIDS. Doctors weren't sure. It usually took multiple tests for a
> doctor to tell you most certainly that you had the HIV virus in your
> blood. Up until 1985, tests hadn't been widely available to test for the
> virus. Up until then, people generally didn't know they had the virus
> until they were becoming ill and showing serious opportunistic infections.
> Doctors
> generally made an AIDS diagnosis based on the patients helper T-Cell level
> - or lack of them. So it was hard for a doctor to tell
> someone who wasn't sick that they had HIV virus - the first tests just
> October 2nd, 1985 - Rock Hudson dies from AIDS.
>
> It is strange that toward the fall of 1985, Freddie suddenly left Munich
> and returned to London. Some may say it was because he was ready to settle
> down at Garden Lodge. But I know that when Freddie did leave Munich toward
> the end of 1985 - it was for good, it was sudden and unexpected, and it
> was a life altering move. Something had changed him. He had abruptly cut
> off some of his closest friends from that city - Kurt (died from AIDS),
Interesting read. I agree with you, that Freddie strongly suspected and was probably tested in 1985 or 1986. I believe he was infected in the 1979-1982 timeframe, when he was wildly promiscuous, starting in NYC and also in Munich.

When you think about it, his boyfriend Tony Bastin (who he was involved with in 1979 and ending in 1980 or 1981) died from AIDS in 1985. All of his lovers died from AIDS (with the exception of Hutton and Mary) either a few years before him, or shortly before him.

I also believe Freddie's use of Cocaine, Ecstasy and heavy drinking shortened his life a liitle. He also slept with hundreds of male prostitutes all over the world between 1978-1985 until he decided to settle down a little with Hutton.

I read two accounts from close friends (one from Mary, the other from Davud Wigg) that Freddie lived with an HIV status for 6-7 years, and that he had been suffering long bouts of thrush in his mouth and really starting to have problems with his voice moreso in 1984-1985. He noticed reduced stamina duribg the Magic tour, and told Mary from the beginning that this was going to be the last tour for him. Freddie always enjoyed touring before that for the most part.

Regardless, the world lost one of the most incredible talents in rock music, and there will never be anyone even close to him. I really miss him.


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