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20 Years of Magic: How One Man's HIV Disclosure Inspired Others

November 2, 2011

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Magic Johnson

On Nov. 7, 1991, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar, announced in a televised press conference that he was HIV positive. This came as a huge shock to millions of people who had believed for so long that HIV was a disease affecting only gay, white men and IV drug users.

His disclosure became a serious game changer. It prompted people who had never thought they were at risk to get tested; it encouraged people to educate themselves about HIV transmission and safer sex; and it lessened stigma and emboldened others to be open with their own HIV status.

So to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Magic's HIV disclosure, we reached out to the HIV community to see how Magic impacted their own work, lives and perception of the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

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This article was provided by TheBody.com.

See Also
Will This Generation's Magic Johnson Please Stand Up?
Magic Johnson Is NOT Cured of HIV
History's Biggest HIV-Positive Celebrities
13 Moments in Black Celebrity Activism
More on Celebrities and HIV/AIDS
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Jak (Columbia, SC) Thu., Dec. 29, 2011 at 11:29 am EST
My son is homosexual and my greatest fear is that one day he will call me and announce that he has contracted HiV/AIDs. My prayer for all these precious people is that a cure may be found and they would live a long and healthy life.
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Comment by: patrick (ny) Wed., Nov. 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm EST
I got tested around that time at a Dr's office on 14th st.and 9th ave. The Dr. made each person listen to a tape about HIV and how you could get it. The Tape stated "And don't believe any statement by "Magic Johnson" that he got it from a woman. I don't know if Magic ever came out with any statement to the contrary, but at the time, according to the Dr. there was nobody on record who got it from a woman. I was negative as he had predicted. I went because I visited prostitutes. He told me at that time most prostitutes wanted to only perform oral sex, because they couldn't get it like that as long as their were no skin breaks in their mouth or lips. Prostitutes who did get HIV from oral sex were crack addicts who burned off skin in their mouths. The saddest thing about that day, I remember telling me he had a young 19 year old girl who had come in the day before who tested positive. How horrible. The Dr. told me that the biggest majority of those tested were homosexuals who didn't heed the warnings about unprotected sex, due to drinking or the heat of passion.
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Comment by: Sam Sun., Jan. 15, 2012 at 8:59 pm EST
"Only homosexuals get HIV", and "they only get it when they don't heed OUR warnings", coupled with "I safely barebacked a prostitute" and "prostitutes are safe if they don't smoke crack". Thank you for that riveting display of idiocy and serophobia. The world is now worse for your contribution. ++ good thebody.com. Any idea which island you wanna send us to while you're at it?


Comment by: Sherri Lewis (Los Angeles, CA) Thu., Nov. 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm EDT
Bravo to my fellow bloggers. I read them all. One thing I'd like to add about Magics disclosure not to take away that it was brave to come out publicly with his status but he had to come out a head of the press so at least he had some control over the information. The same situation for Arthur Ashe.
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Comment by: Gloria (Newark) Wed., Nov. 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm EDT
i can't read it this way. Why are you writing stuff this way? Can I read it on one page?
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Comment by: Olivia (@TheBody.com) Thu., Nov. 3, 2011 at 10:19 am EDT
Clicking 'Print Friendly' in the small toolbar at the top-right-hand corner of the article page should do it. :-) Enjoy!


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