How did Freddie Mercury get aids? Is Freddie’s promiscuity the true reason?

The award-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody gave the world a glimpse into the meteoric rise of Queen and the band’s frontman Freddie Mercury. Grossing over $1 billion in box office sales, the film was a commercial and critical success. However, it did receive criticism for rushing through Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and its possible connection to his death. 

A day before he passed away, Freddie announced that he had contracted HIV/AIDS. He died due to bronchial pneumonia, a common AIDS-related complication. Freddie would probably have survived if he had access to the AIDS medication available today. The government’s slow response to the spread of the disease probably cost Freddie and many others a chance at a long life. 

Before Queen’s fame, Mercury was in a relationship with Mary Austin. The pair’s relationship and the engagement ended after Freddie told her that he was bisexual. Austin assumed that Freddie meant gay. 

Mercury would go on to have multiple sexual partners of different genders. “It was fairly obvious when the visitors to Freddie’s dressing room started to change from hot chicks to hot men,” Brian May, Freddie’s bandmate, told the Sunday Times

Queen’s rise coincided with the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States and Europe. For some reason, the virus hit the gay community hardest, leading to a misconception that AIDS was a ‘gay man’s disease.’

Mercury frequented the gay scene in New York and Munich. Therefore, after his death, people rushed to conclude that Freddie contracted the disease from his gay encounters. 

Nearly a decade after AIDS came to international attention, many people still associated AIDS with gay people; the misconception that the disease didn’t affect heterosexual people remained prevalent in society. 

After Mercury’s death, his bandmates participated in a TV interview dispelling the media rumor that pointed to Freddie’s partying as the reason for his death. 

In the final statement before his death, Freddie ignored how he contracted AIDS and instead called for people to unite against the disease. The statement said:

“However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth, and I hope everyone will join me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.”

Freddie’s close friends knew that he was close to death, but they didn’t think that he would pass away that quickly. “We all knew that it could not be too long, but Freddie’s doctor had said that he could be with us for quite a few days longer,” his assistant Peter Freestone said

We can’t confirm how Freddie contracted AIDS, but there remains a strong suspicion that his numerous sexual encounters in the early 80s are to blame. However, due to the rampant misinformation about AIDS at the time, it’s possible he contracted AIDS from a different source.

Back then, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Freddie probably knew that he had AIDS before a doctor confirmed it in 1987. The Queen frontman knew of the disease and had friends that had died because of it, but he dismissed the idea that he could get infected. Peter Freestone told The Mirror:

“He might have thought he was infected, but again, like many of us, he put it to the back of his mind, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me.’”

In 1987, Freddie’s ex-fiancée and the biggest beneficiary of his estate, Mary Austin, convinced him to test for AIDS. Mercury refused to take the doctor’s call, probably because he knew what the results were. Peter continued:

“Eventually the doctor called Mary and told her he had to speak to Freddie urgently, so Mary then had to persuade Freddie to speak to his doctor. I’m sure Freddie had an idea what the doctor was going to say, so didn’t want to hear the diagnosis.”

Freddie’s health became the subject of intense speculation as he got thinner by the day. He hid the diagnosis from most people, including some of his close friends.

Mercury lived his last couple of years secluded from the public, but he never stopped making music. “We were a very close-knit group like a family, and we would work in the studio until Freddie got retired,” Brian May said.

Freddie stopped taking AIDS medication in early November 1991. A couple of weeks later, Mercury passed away on his terms. Peter explained:

“I believe he was at peace with himself. Freddie decided to stop his medication on his own terms. He knew the consequences of his actions and had the time then to talk with his friends and family and say his goodbyes.”

People heeded Mercury’s call to unite against AIDS – a tribute concert held five months after Freddie’s death raised $20 million for AIDS charities.

Freddie might have died young, but he lived a remarkable life. “I’ve lived a full life,” Freddie said, “and if I’m dead tomorrow, I don’t give a damn.”