Sharon Stone Says Backlash Over AIDS Activism 'Did Destroy My Career': 'I Had to Stick with It'

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone

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Sharon Stone says she sacrificed her career in the fight for HIV/AIDS research.

The Academy Award nominee, 64, said she "didn't work for eight years" after first taking over for late pal and then-amfAR chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor at the organization's annual Cannes fundraising gala in 1995, according to Deadline.

"I had pretty big shoes to fill with Elizabeth Talyor at amfAR," Stone said Friday at Saudia Arabia's Red Sea Film Festival, adding that her publicist at the time told her: "If you do this, it will destroy your career."

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She recounted: "At the time you weren't allowed to talk about AIDS. She got hives on her neck. I said, 'I know, but I am going to do it, you're gonna kill me.' She replied, 'And if you don't, I am gonna kill you.' "

Stone was then asked to take over for Taylor throughout the next three years, during which she said she "had no idea of the resistance, cruelty, hate and oppression that we would face."

"So, I put on a hazmat suit and I had them show me it [the virus] under the microscope," she continued. "I thought I really need to see this thing that is making everyone go nuts."

"I stayed for 25 years until we had AIDS remedies being advertised on TV like we have aspirin. It did destroy my career. I didn't work for eight years. I was told if I said condom again, funding would be removed. I was threatened repeatedly, my life was threatened, and I decided I had to stick with it," added Stone.

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The Flight Attendant actress said she has no regrets, however, and pointed out the 40 million people who died from AIDS before antiretroviral medicines were introduced.

"Now 37 million are living with HIV AIDS, living functioning and healthy," Stone said tearfully.

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After a six-year absence from the event, Stone returned to host the amfAR Cannes Gala last July. Her last previous appearance was in 2014, when she helped the organization raise $35 million in one night.

Stone also received the Legacy Award from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 2020.