And yet it was Hudson’s acknowledgement in 1985 that he had AIDS that was a turning point for the world to finally pay attention to those who were dying from the disease. Thirty years later, in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, those close to the star reveal new details of his fight to survive, his decision to go public and his emotional last goodbyes.
“People talk about AIDS before Rock Hudson and after Rock Hudson,” says Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who first identified AIDS as a new disease in 1981 and who cared for Hudson in the last year of his life. “I never could have imagined he would be the pivotal person in the history of the AIDS epidemic, the single most influential patient ever.”
After he was first diagnosed in 1984, Hudson kept his diagnosis a secret from all but his closest friends. But the world discovered the truth when he collapsed July 21, 1984, in his suite at the Paris Ritz, where he had gone for undercover treatments of the antiviral HPA-23, then unavailable in the United States.