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Was there a dip in the birth rate 9 months after Magic Johnson's press conference announcing he had A.I.D.S.

Apr 16, 1997

Did the birth rate dip 9 months after Magic Johnson's press conference announcing he had A.I.D.S.? The same sexual practices that prevent A.I.D.S. also prevent pregnancy.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

On November 7, 1991, Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced at a press conference that he was infected with HIV. There were several studies that looked at the effects of the Magic Johnson announcement, and how it changed the publics risk-taking behaviors, and perceptions about AIDS. I have found no studies that dealt specifically with birth rates 9 months after the announcement. However, the following effects of his announcement were seen:

Shortly after he announced he had HIV, the number of calls to AIDS Hotlines all throughout the USA surged, as peoples interest in AIDS increased.

In one study at a Philadelphia STD clinic, there was a significant increase in the number of people planning on getting tested for HIV, as compared to those planning on getting tested prior to the announcement. According to this study, the announcement led to an increased concern about HIV, and some people reduced their risks, especially those who were at higher risk for HIV infection.

In New York State's 61 Anonymous HIV Counseling and Testing sites, immediately following the HIV disclosure, there was a substantial increase in requests for testing. Seven months after the announcement, demand for testing continued to remain at levels higher than that prior to the announcement.

In a study at a medical clinic in Maryland, after his announcement, fewer people reported having one-time sexual encounters, and having multiple sexual partners. In other words, in people attending this particular clinic, there was a decrease in the amount of high risk behavior shortly after the announcement.

In a study of men in Chicago, after his disclosure, there were significant increases in concerns about AIDS, interest in learning more about AIDS, and wanting to talk to friends about AIDS. In a separate, similar study among men, the results were similar, especially among African-American men, and men who had not previously known someone with HIV/AIDS.

In other studies, there was an increase in AIDS awareness among adolescents, and their own personal risks for HIV infection. However, one study of adolescents found only a small effect on increased knowledge about AIDS, and little (if any) change in their attitudes about people with HIV/AIDS.

In a study among unmarried heterosexual college students, there was a small, but statistically significant increase of HIV knowledge, as a result of his announcement. However, even after the announcement, these students continued to engage in unprotected sex and did not perceive themselves at risk of infection.

In the year following the announcement, nationwide, sales of condoms did not significantly increase.

Overall, shortly after the announcement, people were interested in lowering their personal risks for HIV infection. In the short term, there were substantial increases in requests for testing, and an increased interest in wanting to learn more about AIDS. However in the long term, high risk behaviors continued (especially among adolescents) despite his announcement. On a brighter note, people did have an increased awareness about AIDS as a result of his disclosure. However, the increased awareness of AIDS did not necessarily reduce the number of people engaging in high risk activities (especially in young people).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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