(KMOX) – Today, tennis great and activist Arthur Ashe would have turned 71.
With 33 titles to his name, he announced in 1992 that he had likely contracted HIV through a transfusion during heart surgery.
He actually found out four years earlier.
In February 1993 he was to attend The Connecticut Forum’s second “Straight Talk and Honest Answers About AIDS.”
Unable to attend, he mailed a videotaped message to the forum audience in which he called for compassion and understanding.
“There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done with the public to assure them that ordinary contact with people like myself poses absolutely no danger to them,” he said. “I can sneeze in their presence, I can cough in their presence, we can drink out of the same glass, we can use the same knife, fork or spoon, we can kiss, and you’re not going to transmit the virus.”
It was to be his final message, the forum organizers found out during intermission that Arthur Ashe passed away just hours earlier.
Arthur Ashe died of pneumonia in New York.
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