Keith Haring: Artist and HIV/AIDS activist

Keith Haring was an artist and a major voice in early HIV/AIDS awareness in the '80s. With his signature visual style, pieces like "Stop AIDS" remain highly recognizable and vital to this day.


Keith Haring was an artist and a major voice in early HIV/AIDS awareness.

In 1978, Haring moved to New York for art school.

One day, he saw an unused black panel of ad space in a subway station. He returned with a box of chalk, started drawing and never stopped.

If the subway was his self-described "laboratory," the city was his canvas. His work quickly became famous, and he began painting large outdoor murals on buildings too.

Haring, who was openly gay, was a fiercely political artist. His art touched on social issues like drug abuse and apartheid.

He created pieces to benefit hospitals, charities and more worldwide.

When the AIDS epidemic began in 1981, it became a major focus of his work. At a time when President Ronald Reagan didn’t publicly use the term "AIDS" for more than four years, Haring used his art to amplify information about the virus.

Along with highlighting the importance of safe sex, he created works like "Ignorance Fear" and "Stop AIDS."

Haring was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and AIDS in 1988. At age 31, he died of complications from the virus on Feb. 16, 1990.

Before his death, he established the Keith Haring Foundation. It continues to help organizations dedicated to aids care and prevention, as well as those helping children in need.

Today his indelible work can still be seen across the globe, and his singular visual style remains instantly recognizable.