Earvin “Magic“ Johnson was born on August 14th 1959 in Lansing, Michigan and expressed his interest in basketball at an early age. After a stint playing the point guard position at Michigan State Universiry, Johnson was eventually drafted into the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979 and began his climb to stardom.
Johnson found out he had HIV after a routine physical examination just before the 1991-92 NBA season. He told Oprah that, after his doctor called him, “I got a flight, went back to L.A., went to his office, and he began to tell me that I was HIV positive. You’re just stunned when you hear some news that is so devastating like that. You’re just in disbelief and really can’t believe that it’s you who has HIV.”
Thankfully, his wife and unborn baby tested negative for the disease. Johnson commented: “When they told me she didn’t have HIV, as well as my son, I knew that I probably would live for a long time. Because if my wife had HIV, my baby had HIV, I probably couldn’t take it.”
Following his retirement, Magic Johnson returned to play for the NBA once more in an all-star game in 1992, as well as for the Summer Olympics of that same year. Despite opposition from fans and players alike, he retired for the third and final time in 1996.
“Combatting the deadly illness“ became Johnson’s full-time occupation, and he has been involved in rigorous compaigning ever since his diagnosis. His interest in particular lies with the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS within the US Hispanic and Black communities. USA TODAY reports that “at the time (of Johnson’s diagnosis), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tallied about 200,000 full-blown AIDS cases in the United States, one-third of them among blacks“, but just 16% among heterosexual men and women. Today, the figures are quite different.
In August 2009, Johnson addressed an HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, urging church leaders in black communities to take on responsibility of education their communities. Medical News Today quotes Johnson: “We now have a major problem in urban America, in inner cities – the face of AIDS has changed from a gay white man’s disease to a black and [Hispanic] disease. And if we don’t get the black church involved, there is no way we can bring these numbers (of new HIV cases) down.”
Apart from his political and social campaigning, Johnson has consistently had one piece of advice for fellow sufferers of HIV: get involved with your treatment and try to maintain a positive outlook. “I never felt like I was defeated and that I was going to give up and that it’s over. I think that’s why I’ve been living with HIV so long“, he told Oprah.
Another celebrity who has suffered from AIDS is Liberace.
Find out more about HIV/AIDS.
Image attribution: Wikimedia File:Earvin “Magic” Johnson on ’07.jpg, File:Magic Johnson and Nancy Pelosi.jpgTags: AIDS HIV