The Santa Monica Observer is reporting that two days before Prince died, a confidential source told the paper that the pop star was dying of AIDS, having stopped taking his meds for the virus he supposedly contracted sometime in the 1990s. The paper alleges he wound up off his meds -- presumably somewhat recently -- because of the influence of fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, who are "known to forego modern medicine in favor of prayer." (Prince converted in 2001.) People magazine then reported that he was grappling with a "serious and ongoing" illness at the time of his death that "weakened his immune system." But no sooner did People's report lend credence to SMO's, the magazine then contradicted itself and said the treatment for whatever he had was what led to his having a compromised immune system -- not that he was being treated for a compromised immune system -- which sounds more like someone who is undergoing chemo or is on steroids (or the like), which can cause one's defenses to diminish. Putting another hole in the theory is that Damian then reminded me that it is Christian Scientists who won't take medication, not Jehovah's Witnesses. (Followers have some unique ideas about medicine, but mostly they just have rules against blood transfusions.) And if he were some kind of follower who eschews medicine, then why would we be hearing that he needed a Narcan shot on April 15 after overdosing on Percocet prescribed for hip and ankle pain? He'd take Percocet but not HIV meds? (Preliminary autopsy results released Friday ruled out suicide but do not reveal a cause of death yet,) If SMO is correct and he did die of AIDS related causes, I can already hear the "What about his privacy?" and "What difference does it make?" comments flowing in, I tend to err on the side of transparency when it comes to matters such as this, and autopsies of public figures are matters of public record anyway. (How do you think we know how Marilyn Monroe died? And I can still vividly recall my jaw dropping on the 101 in downtown L.A. car-pooling home from work when a radio announcer came on and rattled off that Robert Reed's "cause of death was colorectal cancer complicated by HIV.") Just as with Charlie Sheen, though, if it's true that Prince chose to go off his HIV meds and then couldn't right the ship when his health went off course, whose story would be better than his to spread the word about the importance of proper treatment of HIV/AIDS? Science and medicine are real, religion is faith. Sadly, faith does not combat HIV, no matter how rich and famous you are.