In March of 1989, Madonna released the album Like A Prayer which included a card insert called “The Facts About AIDS."
I was 15-years-old at the time and read it from cover to cover.
The leaflet referred to AIDS as “an equal opportunity disease”. It went on to say: “People with AIDS – regardless of their sexual orientation – deserve compassion and support, not violence and bigotry”. Three simple facts followed, explaining how you could get HIV, and then an equally simple message telling you to wear a condom.
Madonna would ultimately teach me more about sex than I ever learned at school.
“AIDS is no party!” the leaflet signed off with, and Madonna was only too aware. She had already lost her good friend Martin Burgoyne – who designed the cover to her Burning Up single – to the epidemic by this point. The Madison Square Garden show of her Who’s That Girl Tour in 1987 became an AIDS benefit, with money raised going to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
Madonna was always breaking the rules and battling not just HIV stigma but LGBT stigma and generally anything about sex.
It's probably hard for younger folks to recall a world where Madonna didn't exist — so it's equally hard for them to understand what an indelible impact she had — Happy Birthday Madonna — and many happy returns!