Erasure principal Andy Bell has confirmed he has been HIV-positive for more than six years. "I found out I was [HIV-positive] in June 1998 when I had a bout of pneumonia in [the Spanish island of] Majorca," he said in a statement released to Billboard.com. "Since then, I have been taking combination therapy and I am feeling fine. In fact, I have never felt better. Being [HIV-positive] does not mean that you have AIDS," he continued. "My life expectancy should be the same as anyone else's, so there is no need to panic. There is still so much hysteria and ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS, [so] let's just get on with life, i.e., making music, doing a live tour, and generally having a good time."
This year Bell had two surgeries to reduce extreme pain in his hips. "I'm now bionic and ready to go," he told Billboard in a recent interview. "During the last tour I was in so much pain. I was in a pre-surgery state. My hips had deteriorated a lot. By the end of the tour, I was hardly moving around on the stage. Now, with my new hips, I feel revitalized. I am so ready for our upcoming tour." Bell and fellow Erasure principal Vince Clarke will release their first album of new material since 2000, Nightbird, on January 25 in North America via Mute. A U.K. tour is on tap for February and March, followed by a 10- to 15-city North American swing in April and May.
"The challenge of making a new record is always the same: You're doing something from nothing," Clarke recently told Billboard. "We start with a tape recorder, with me playing the guitar and Andy going 'La, la, la.' The lyrics are complete nonsense when we begin. There are also no musical ideas when we begin. The process still amazes me." According to Erasure's manager, Bell plans to begin speaking out about his HIV-positive status in the hopes of educating young people about HIV and AIDS. He may also perform at some AIDS-related benefit shows during the spring trek.