On 10-Year Anniversary of Retirement from Basketball, HIV-Positive Magic Johnson is ‘Picture of Health’
The Detroit News yesterday profiled Magic Johnson, "the world's most famous HIV-positive individual," who announced 10 years ago today that he had HIV and was retiring from the world of basketball. Today Johnson appears "a picture of health," with antiretroviral drugs helping him maintain a "strong immune system" and exhibit "no symptoms" of the disease, the Detroit News reports. Over the past 10 years, Johnson has raised more than $50 million through his Magic Johnson Foundation, with the majority of the money funding AIDS research and services for those affected by the disease. "I've been able to help people with HIV and AIDS and other problems -- with their housing, with money to get the drugs they need. But I've also been able to speak for the people whose voices were not heard before. And I've brought a face to the disease -- that's probably the biggest thing, really," Johnson said. Johnson was "the first prominent sports figure" to reveal he had HIV, and his disclosure prompted Americans to realize that AIDS was not simply a "gay disease" and "could happen to anybody," the News reports. NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "Sports is a place where people can engage in conversation and a simple conversation can be on a global basis. And AIDS and HIV having the face of Magic Johnson was an opportunity for that kind of conversation." However, after a 1998 interview in which his wife Cookie said that he had been "cured," Johnson said he is "careful" when discussing his HIV status because he does not want others to think that HIV/AIDS is not fatal. "Kids -- and adults -- have to understand that this thing is out there still. And it's here to stay. ... People need to understand that I'm just doing very well. But there's a lot more people dying than there are people like me," Johnson said (Niyo, Detroit News, 11/6). The Los Angeles Times also features a profile of Johnson today (Springer, Los Angeles Times, 11/7). In addition, the AP/Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer features a profile on the player (Nadel, AP/Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 11/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.