It’s wild to think that Earvin “Magic” Johnson, one of the most famous names in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has been living with the virus for 20 years now. There’s a really wonderful piece in Newsweek that celebrates his journey and takes an interesting look at Johnson’s life as research and information about HIV/AIDS developed.
It’s inspiring to take a minute to step back and reflect on how purposefully Johnson has committed his life to supporting the search for a cure to the disease. With the Magic Johnson Foundation, which began on November 7, 1991, when the former point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers announced publicly that he had contracted HIV, Johnson’s been an important leader for the cause.
He understands how lucky he is that he’s had access to medical treatments to contain the virus so that it has not progressed into AIDS. He told Newsweek writer Allison Samuels:
I’m blessed that the medicine I take really worked well with my body and makeup. It doesn’t work like that for everyone. A lot of people haven’t been as fortunate as I have.
The profile paints an intriguing picture of Johnson’s past, but it certainly doesn’t neglect the future. Johnson speaks specifically about some of the underlying issues related to HIV/AIDS with regard to race, saying that the black community continues to be affected disproportionately. In fact, Samuels reports, in 2006, HIV infection rates for black women were 15 times as high as those for white women and four times as high as those for Latina women. Now, Johnson says, it’s time to raise greater awareness in the black community. He said:
There is still such a stigma with the virus in our community, and that prevents any progress, because we won’t talk about it with our kids or our families. What can change without talking? That’s what I’m fighting to change with the foundation. … This happened to me for a reason, and I know it was for me to help someone else.
Check out the entire profile over at Newsweek.
(Photo Muthagoose Escobar)