How Has Magic Johnson Survived 20 Years With Hiv
ByAdam Hadhazy07 November 2011
Note: This article was updated at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
On Nov. 7, 1991, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson shocked the world when he announced that he had contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. After the press conference, the perception was that Johnson had just pronounced his own death sentence.
Yet, 20 years later, the now-52-year-old Johnson is going as strong as ever in his roles as a sports analyst, businessman and HIV activist. In 1991, when most of what people knew about HIV/AIDS was that it lead to death at a young age, this outcome might have seemed impossible.
So why is Johnson still alive?
The answer to Johnson’s survival is far from “magic.” According to reports, he takes the same kinds of drugs that are available to other HIV patients in the developed world, and increasingly in impoverished nations in Africa and Asia, where the disease still runs rampant. Many people have lived with HIV even longer than Johnson.
“There is nothing unique about Magic,” said Spencer Lieb, senior epidemiologist and HIV/AIDS research coordinator for the Florida Consortium for HIV/AIDS Research. “There are still people alive and kicking and doing very well 20 and 30 years after infection.”
Stopping HIV in the back court
The key with Johnson and others has been preventing their incurable disease from progressing into full-blown AIDS.
The meds that slam dunk HIV
Staying in the game
Magic Johnsons Nba Career
The NBA decided the 1980s, and Magic Johnsons career, with a coin flip. This is IF___ THEN___
Earvin Magic Johnson came from a close-knit, hard-working family in Michigan. Coming out of high school, Johnson showed immense talent and was highly-recruited by top tier schools such as UCLA, but he instead chose Michigan State because it had a high level of talented players already on the team. It was during college that he learned how to successfully play point guard under coach Jud Heathcote.
After a prolific college career, Johnson cemented himself as the top college player in the country in 1979 when he faced and defeated Bird and Indiana State. As a result, he was the No. 1 draft pick that year. Beginning in 1979, Johnson played a total of 13 seasons, all with the Lakers. He became the most dominant name in the NBA, averaging an incredible 19.5 points and seven rebounds per game.
Johnson won the NBA championship four times, established LA as a dynasty, played in 12 All-Star games, and participated in the 1992 Olympics as part of the fabled Dream Team. His pro career also spawned one of the greatest, ongoing rivalries in sports between the Lakers and the Celtics.
Magic Johnsons Life Now
Thanks to the invention of the triple-drug cocktail to treat HIV/AIDS positive individuals in 1995, Magic Johnson was able to avoid the agonizing and drawn-out deaths that were suffered by the likes of Eazy E and Freddie Mercury.
While he is still HIV positive as there is no cure for the virus, Johnson has been able to live a relatively normal life. His wife Cookie and son EJ remain HIV negative.
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The Eldest Johnson Son
In 1981, Magic became a father for the first time when his then-girlfriend, Melissa Mitchell, gave birth to a son. Unlike his younger siblings, Andre has chosen to stay out of the spotlight and was raised by his mom. While he didn’t grow up with Magic, the two remain to have a solid relationship.
More than just being father-and-son, Magic and Andre have done business together, and go on vacation to spend time together whenever they can. While he was the Vice President of his dad’s business Magic Johnson Enterprises at one point, he is no longer a part of it and instead put up his own called “Love + Light Ventures, LLC.”
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Magic Johnson Doesn’t Really Have Hiv
Since his 1991 disclosure, we’ve all heard folks peddle the persistent belief that Johnson either never had HIV or has been cured of the disease . Here’s the tea: Neither one is true.
I get it: Big Pharm is greedy and makes profit off other’s people’s sickness . Chris Rock had a point when he said, “Money’s not in the cure — it’s in the medicine.” But, even in all of those truths, there’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, yet.
And, while Magic’s wife Cookie Johnson once told Ebony that her husband “was healed” of HIV, that wasn’t some sinister slip of the tongue. That was her misspeaking about Magic’s viral load being undetectable due to his consistent access to lifesaving antiretrovirals and quality health care — which is definitely a bonus of having wealth and access, but it’s not some wicked conspiracy. Sadly, that’s just called capitalism.
Also, keep in mind that, over the years, Magic has consistently stressed that he is positive and that, despite being an ambassador for a drug company, he isn’t getting first dibs on special meds. He’s also denied rumors that he has traveled abroad to get an herbal cure, mostly because one just doesn’t exist.
Why is it so difficult to take him at his word? Why are folks still struggling to believe in science?
Magic Johnson: The Nba Superstar Who Smashed Hiv Stigma Then Built A Huge Fortune
He stunned basketball fans and transformed HIV awareness by announcing his diagnosis in 1991. Thirty years on, he discusses his relationship with Anthony Fauci, the meaning of money and why hes still optimistic
On 7 November 1991, a press conference in Inglewood, California, brought America to a standstill. Against a black-draped backdrop, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and multicoloured tie, Earvin Magic Johnson, spoke calmly into a single microphone and told the world that he had been diagnosed with HIV.
Cameras flashed and reporters clamoured to ask questions, but Johnson, National Basketball Association superstar and one of the worlds most revered athletes, appeared unfazed as he announced his immediate retirement. Had he grappled with his own mortality? When had he found out? How had he acquired the virus? What would he do next?
I plan on going on living for a long time, bugging you guys like I always have, he told reporters, his optimism surprising those who viewed his condition as a death sentence. I guess now I get to enjoy some of the other sides of living.
As we talk today, right now, Im thinking, Wow its been 30 years and Im still here, healthy. Everything has gone right. There was one drug then, now we have 30-something drugs, he says.
Dr Ho and Dr Fauci calmed me down, because I was thinking I was going to die
Without those two, he says. I probably wouldnt be here.
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Magic Johnson On Getting Hiv Diagnosis In : I Just Lost It
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When Magic Johnson’s iconic basketball career was interrupted by a stunning HIV diagnosis three decades ago, the newlywed NBA legend had no idea how much time he had to live or how the virus would affect his wife and their unborn child.
“You just sit there and say, what does this mean? Am I gonna die?'” he told “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King.
Johnson, who remains HIV-undetectable to this day, opened up about living with the virus and his career in an exclusive interview for “CBS Mornings” nearly 30 years after he publicly announced his HIV diagnosis.
Today, the Lakers star is a loving father and grandfather, a successful businessman, a philanthropist and the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. He and Cookie have been together throughout this time, and neither she nor their son, Earvin Johnson III, have HIV.
At the time of his diagnosis, Johnson thought the virus was a death sentence.
“I had to really learn a lot about the disease, HIV as well as AIDS. I had to make sure that I was open-minded enough to ask a lot of questions, go get a lot of information from different people,” he said.
Johnson first learned of his diagnosis after a routine physical ahead of the 1991-92 NBA season. He was called back home from a pre-season game in Utah, so that Lakers team physician Dr. Michael Mellman could deliver the news in person. When Johnson first heard the news, he was “devastated,” he said.
His wife remembers that moment too.
But Women Cannot Transmit Hiv To Men
Part of Magic’s narrative around his transmission is that he contracted the virus from heterosexual sex, which is still hard for some to believe and even leads them to question the basketball legend’s sexual orientation.
Here’s the deal: Yes, it is biologically harder for a woman to transmit HIV to a man during unprotected vaginal sex compared with unprotected anal sex, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible — or that it doesn’t happen. HIV can enter a man through the tip of his penis or a cut or abrasion on his genitals. Also, if a man has an untreated sexually transmitted infection, that raises his chances of seroconverting if he comes into contact with someone who is HIV positive and isn’t undetectable. Sadly, we just don’t talk about it, but we should. Because, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, in 2010 more than 2700 black heterosexual men received an HIV diagnosis .
Just think about how many how straight brothas’ fall through the testing and treatment cracks because we can’t shake the idea that it can’t really happen to them.
One word: Tuskegee.
So, I can empathize with how easy it is to listen to that little voice in the back of your mind that pressures you to believe that Magic is cured, that AIDS is manmade or that bananas or herbs can rid you of the virus. But, at some point, we have to shake those doubts and surrender to the science because, if we don’t, the only ones we’re hurting are ourselves.
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The Lakers Legend Remembers How Telling His Wife Was The Most Difficult Part Of Being Diagnosed With Hiv
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson has become a living testament to advances in medicine that have turned human immunodeficiency virus from a death sentence into something that can be managed and lived with. While Johnson can now attest to 30 years of life after being diagnosed with HIV, his journey living with the disease has been far from easy.
During an appearance on CBS Mornings, Magic Johnson discussed living with HIV three decades after he was initially diagnosed with the virus prior to the 1991-92 NBA season. Johnson remembered the devastation of his diagnosis, and said that the most difficult part was having to tell his wife Cookie — who he had just married, and whom had just become pregnant with their child.
“It was hard because I loved her so much and I hated to hurt her,” Magic Johnson said.
Its still the toughest thing Ive ever had to do in my life: says that he hated having to tell his wife about his HIV diagnosis. But 30 years later, the NBA legend is still pursuing his passions, with Cookie by his side.
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On November 7, 1991, Johnson held a news conference to announce that he was retiring from the NBA and that he was HIV-positive. At the time, a lot about HIV was still unknown to most of the world. Blood tests to detect the virus had been developed only six years earlier, and researchers still did not know where it originated.
I just want to make clear, first of all, that I do not have the AIDS disease, Johnson said. My wife is fine. Shes negative, so theres no problem with her.
I plan on going on, living for a long time.
I will now become a spokesman for the HIV virus, because I want young people to realize that they can practice safe sex. Sometimes youre a little naive about it, and you think it can never happen to you. You only thought it could happen to other people and so on and on. It has happened, but Im going to deal with it. And my life will go on.
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Magic Johnson: 20 Years Of Living With Hiv
Earvin Magic Johnson isnt the reflective type. He tends not to dwell on the past or even second-guess the decision he made 10 minutes ago. So when asked if he often thinks about that chilly November morning in 1991 when he stood onstage at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles and announced to the world that hed contracted HIV, the former point guard flashes his signature smile and shakes his head: no. I dont look back that much at all, and I dont spend a lot of time on regrets, says Johnson. I do regret putting my family and my wife, Cookie, through that entire experience and having to deal with certain things. But thats really the only regret I have.
Instead, the basketball legend turned business executive keeps his mind focused on one, profound thought: living. To the fame he earned as a Los Angeles Laker has been added the triumph of the survivor who beat the odds, and it may be the greater legacy of the two.
Up at 4 a.m. each workday, Johnson jogs five miles to his office in Beverly Hills, where he oversees Magic Johnson Enterprises, which operates movie theaters, Starbucks stores, and other businesses in long-neglected urban neighborhoods. Meanwhile, hes actively involved in his namesake foundations efforts around HIV/AIDS and education, and works closely with the Obama administration on community-development issues. And when he finally gets home from the office after a brisk walk, he takes more business calls until 9 p.m.
Magic Johnson Marks 30 Years Since Disclosing His Hiv Status
Plus, as an ambassador for the NBAs 75th season, Magic Johnson encourages players and fans alike to get COVID-19 vaccinations.
Thirty years ago, an HIV disclosure stunned the world. On November 7, 1991, Magic Johnson, then at the height of his NBA stardom, held a press conference to announce that he had tested positive for HIVthe virus that can cause AIDSand was retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers immediately. This was six years before effective combination treatment became available and at a time when an HIV diagnosis was widely viewed as a death sentence.
Much has changed since then.
Today, Johnson is great and thriving while living with HIV. Though he used to take HIV meds three times a day, hes down to one daily pill, and his virus is undetectable, he told CBS Mornings cohost Gayle King last week . Whats more, hes a 62-year-old grandfather and the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, an investment company focused on underserved communities. And hes an ambassador to the NBA, which is celebrating its 75th season in that role, he encourages players to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
God has really blessed me! Today marks 30 years living with HIV so the message resonated with me in such a tremendous way. I thank the Lord for keeping me, giving me strength, and guiding me for 62 years but especially the last 30. ????????
Earvin Magic Johnson
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Cookie Johnson: I Fell To My Knees When Magic Revealed His Hiv Diagnosis
We both fell on our knees, and we started crying, she tells Robin Roberts.
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It scared me to death. I mean, I fell to my knees, she told Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts. We both fell on our knees and we started crying.
It was Nov. 7, 1991, when Los Angeles Lakers star player Earvin Magic Johnson publicly announced his diagnosis and sent shock waves across the nation. Back at home, the news tested the strength of their marriage.
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I didnt have time to get mad about whatever happened, you know, or start asking questions. went to He is possibly going to die,’ Johnson told Roberts. There wasnt a lot of knowledge back in 1991.
The couple wed on Sept. 14, 1991, just 45 days before Magic revealed his diagnosis to his wife. Johnson is adamant that she never wavered in supporting her husband.
He said, If you want to leave, you know, I dont blame you. Its OK. I understand. Then I said, Are you kidding me? No. I love you. Im gonna stay here and help you live. Im gonna stay here and were gonna beat this thing. Were gonna figure out how to beat this thing,’ she recalled.
The NBA star credits his wife for her unconditional support.