Ah, thought so. Photographer Herb Ritts died of pneumonia, as his publicist said, but only after HIV infection had weakened his immune system, which she has belatedly disclosed. "Herb was HIV[-positive]... at the end of the day, his immune system was compromised." Michelangelo Signorile works himself up into indignation, accusing newspapers of glossing over the persistence of AIDS. But it's a broader issue: whether the cause of death is cancer or AIDS, obituaries shy away from the details.
Don't Hide the Truth About AIDS [Signorile]
Update: Turns out the New York Daily News, at least, ran the story, a few days after Ritts died.
Celebrity photographer Herb Ritts, who died Thursday, gave generously to the fight against AIDS. So some of his allies in that cause are surprised that his reps told obit-writers that he died of pneumonia - neglecting to mention he was HIV-positive.
"Even if he didn't die of AIDS, it appears that his system may have been compromised by the virus," says AIDS activist Ed Caracci. "With so many people working so hard for care and research, it helps to let people know about his struggle."
Ritts spokesman Steven Huvane tells us the lensman did not have "an AIDS-related pneumonia," such as pneumocytis carinii pneumonia.
"Herb certainly never concealed the fact that he was HIV-positive," adds Huvane. "But he was a quiet man. He didn't send out a press release. He didn't dwell on himself."
Ritts' family and longtime partner, Erik Hyman, are due to have a private memorial service sometime in the next few days in L.A. A larger remembrance is being planned for January.