Town Hall Meeting Held in Oakland, Calif., as Part of National ‘I Stand With Magic’ Campaign
"Cookie" Johnson, the wife of former National Basketball Association player Earvin "Magic" Johnson, on Tuesday held a town hall meeting in Oakland, Calif., to discuss HIV/AIDS and encourage prevention, the Oakland Tribune reports. The event is part of the national "I Stand With Magic" campaign and was organized in conjunction with Abbott Laboratories. The campaign aims to reduce the number of new HIV cases among minority communities by increasing awareness and knowledge about the disease.
"Cookie" Johnson specifically is seeking to reach out to black women, who are diagnosed with AIDS nearly 23 times more often than white women, according to CDC. Blacks account for 50% of AIDS diagnoses in the U.S., the Tribune reports. "Magic" Johnson told his wife in 1991 that he has HIV, and "Cookie" Johnson said that after she learned how the disease disproportionately affects black women, she remembered thinking, "Maybe they'll wake up and listen to me."
"Cookie" Johnson said at the meeting that more people should educate themselves on HIV/AIDS and be tested. She added that black churches should be more welcoming to HIV-positive individuals, adding, "The church needs to really get on board with doing some real forgiveness." A local physician and several people living with HIV/AIDS also spoke at the event. Following the meeting, the California Prevention and Education Project offered no-cost rapid results HIV screenings (Lowe, Oakland Tribune, 6/10).