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Florida: Magic Johnson Dedicates Space for World AIDS Museum

November 12, 2013

This article was reported by the Sun Sentinel.

The Sun Sentinel reported about the dedication of the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center where Earvin "Magic" Johnson spoke on the 21st anniversary of his own HIV-positive announcement. In front of a crowd of approximately 100 people, Johnson touched on how the world is combatting the stigma of HIV/AIDS as well as the medical advances since his diagnosis. "When I first started treatment years ago, it was 15 pills three times a day," Johnson said. "They said it was because I'm a big guy. So my height worked against me. But now, it's pills once a day."

The museum, located in Wilton Manors, Fla., just outside of Ft. Lauderdale, is the first global space dedicated to "telling the story of HIV and AIDS," according to Museum President Steven Stagon. "I'm so glad we got this museum started," Johnson said. "We've all got to work together and that's the key."

The museum will open early next year and is approximately 3,000 square feet, although the board hopes it will expand eventually. Funding for the museum came from a $94,000 grant and 34 individual donors. Stagon believes the location is ideal because the area does not have many museums currently, yet it hosts 12 million tourists each year. "This is the epicenter for the AIDS epidemic in America right now," he said.

Board Chairperson Hugh Beswick said featured exhibits will include themes such as "AIDS chronology," where visitors walk through a multimedia timeline of the history of the disease. A dedicated room will allow people to film their personal stories, which become part of an online "virtual quilt" of multiple stories. The sole exhibit now on display is of a large red ribbon sculpture constructed from artist Ed Sparan's 417 empty HIV medication bottles, which was worth $85,000 of medication. "That's 10 years' worth," Sparan said of the three-foot-high sculpture. "Magic is 21 years. His would be twice the size."

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