Usher’s STD Controversy 

In the 1980s, thousands of Americans died of AIDS related deaths. Back then, there was only one drug, called azidothymidine or AZT, for those with AIDs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though it was intended to prolong life, it often caused other health issues and not all patients could withstand treatment. The lack of other options gave way to rise of unapproved drugs being purchased through the black marker. This was famously portrayed in the film “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” which showed AIDS patient Ron Woodruff procuring drugs from other countries and distributing them to others affected by AIDS.

This eventually gave way to the formation of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), which fought for the government to acknowledge the growing crisis. They held marches, protests, and “die-ins.” Further, they demanded the FDA approve more drugs faster and to reform how government agencies and scientists approached the AIDS epidemic.

Activists also worked to familiarize themselves with AIDS so they could help suggest solutions like which drugs available in other countries could be used. Some, however, worried this would that looser regulations would mean more harm than good. Then, in 1989, ACT UP developed the “National AIDS Treatment Research Agenda,” technical recommendations on where medical research should be focused and how treatments could be developed. 

In 1990, it was discovered that drugs pushed by ACT UP activists were not as effective as they thought. This is when the Treatment and Data Committee split from ACT UP and renamed themselves the Treatment Action Group or TAG. Both scientists and activists continued to work diligently and, now, several drugs are available to make living with AIDS manageable. In fact, some drugs help patients achieve a status of “Undetectable,” so they won’t transmit AIDS to others.

ACT UP and TAG’s determination led to new laws like “right to try,” which allows patients living with diseases like AIDS to try treatments and drugs not approved by the FDA. Since 2014, thirty-one states have implemented “right to try” laws, though it is heavily debated whether it’s good or effective for patients. This has, however, benefited people including celebrities like pop icon Usher.

Usher Terry Raymond IV was born on October 14, 1987 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He began singing in the church choir at age six and gained fame at fourteen after appearing on Star Search. He was offered a record deal by Laface Records and released his self-titled album in 1994 at only fifteen. Since then, he has taken the musical world by storm. In 1997 he released the album My Way, which included the hit single Nice & Slow, and sold more than seven million copies. He’s had several successful albums like 8701(featuring U Got It Bad, U Remind Me, and U Don’t Have to Call) and Confessions (which included Burn, Confessions Part II, and Yeah!). Unfortunately, despite his success, he has been no stranger to controversy. Namely, he endured a custody battle for his son with ex-wife Tameka Foster when the boy, Usher V, got caught in a pool drain. The boy was being watched by his aunt who pulled him from the drain. He survived, but this led to Foster claiming Usher was unfit to care for the child, which a judge disagreed with. This was not the only time he would be in the spotlight for negative reasons.

Namely, when you think of Usher, you typically don’t make the association usher aids. In 2017, though, he was accused of not revealing an alleged diagnosis of the herpes virus prior to sexual contact with two women and a man. In California, the law states that individuals, who do not disclose they have a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. However, those with HIV could have faced felony charges and up to eight years in prison due to a law instituted during the height of the AIDS crisis. Recently, though, this law has been downgraded to carry a misdemeanor because HIV is not a death sentence due to medical advancements.

Usher was allegedly diagnosed around 2010. He sought to have the $20 million lawsuit dismissed and won after it was discovered he only had protected sex with the main complainant.