Many people who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a virus that over time causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), do not die from the so-called virus, they usually expire due to a fungal (mold) infection resulting from their inability to fight off infections.

As was the case with the singer, Freddie Mercury of the world famous rock band, Queen who died in 1991.

Mercury was a British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and co-principal songwriter for Queen. Rolling Stone calls him, “Theatrical, brilliant, excessive and doomed — there had never been another band like Queen or a frontman like Freddie Mercury.”

Unfortunately, this rock legend lived life on the edge and in the end, he could not battle one of man’s biggest and oldes foes, fungus (mold). On the evening of 24 November 1991, a little over 24 hours after issuing a statement that he had AIDS, Mercury died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington, West London. The official cause of death listed by the corner’s office was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

As I have said before, the meaning of the word cause is “a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition or to make (something, typically something bad) happen.” Therefore, the action and or condition in many HIV patients who die is bronchial pneumonia, which is caused by some thing that causes this illness.

For example, when someone dies of a gunshot wound, they die as a result of the trauma from the bullet entering the body. This is the condition resulting from a cause which common sense and many criminal murder cases in history shows us that the resulting gunshot wound was caused by someone (a person) actually shooting the gun. Otherwise, the bullet would not have ripped a hole in the person all by itself.

So we cannot really say that  bronchial pneumonia was the cause, it was the action, phenomenon, or condition that was caused by some thing. We also cannot say that AIDS caused his death, because AIDS is an immunodeficiency syndrome that causes our bodies defense mechanisms against foreign invaders like fungus (mold) to become weak and it simply does not cause bronchial pneumonia.

If you look further into his death, you will find that his bronchial pneumonia was caused by a fungus known as Pneumocystis jirovecii (previously P. carinii), which is a major cause pneumonia and death in HIV/AIDS sufferers.(1)

Pneumocystis jirovecii is a yeast-like fungus of the genus Pneumocystis. The causative organism of Pneumocystis pneumonia, it is an important human pathogen, particularly among immunocompromised hosts. Prior to its discovery as a human-specific pathogen, P. jirovecii was known as P. carinii.

This is what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says this about this disease:

Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a serious illness caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. PCP is one of the most frequent and severe opportunistic infections in people with weakened immune systems, particularly people with HIV/AIDS. Although people with HIV/AIDS are less likely to get PCP today than in recent years, PCP is still a significant public health problem.

Before the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, PCP was very uncommon. In fact, unusual clusters of PCP were one of the first signs that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was beginning. PCP soon became one of the main AIDS-defining illnesses in HIV-infected patients in the United States. Since then, the incidence of PCP in HIV/AIDS patients has declined in the U.S. due to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and TMP-SMX prophylaxis. However, PCP is still a serious health concern for people with HIV/AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system.

In the U.S., the incidence of PCP is estimated to be 9% among hospitalized HIV/AIDS patients and 1% among solid organ transplant recipients. In immunocompromised patients, the mortality rate ranges from 5% to 40% in those who receive treatment. The mortality rate approaches 100% without therapy.”(2)


  1. Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States 1850-2000: Mycoses and Modernity By A. Homei, M. Worboys
  2. CDC Website
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