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“177,000 People Been Hospitalized… 14,000 Died”: War Against HIV Sees Magic Johnson Making a Plea to People

Published 02/23/2024, 1:40 PM EST

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Back in 1991, Magic Johnson shocked the world by sharing he was HIV positive. His battle against it continues as he works towards spreading awareness. He expressed deep concern about the lack of awareness surrounding the virus and, in a recent interview, he shared some important statistics.

During the interview with KTLA, he highlighted the staggering numbers, stating, “It’s very important because 177,000 people (have) been hospitalized last year with RSV and 14,000 died. And they didn’t know, just like I did before I sat down with GSK and they explained it to me. I said, ‘Hey, I’m 64 get ready to be 65 I got to ask my doctor about it and make sure I’m informed because I try to do everything I can to be as healthy as I can be.”

Before sharing the numbers, he also stated how treatment for the virus has advanced. “When I announced 32 years ago, (there was) only one drug, AZT. Now we have 40 drugs that can allow you to have a healthy lifestyle, and be here forever. Just like me… I work out five days a week but also the drugs and the meds helped me to maintain a healthy lifestyle so it’s all about making sure that you are comfortable with your new status because a lot of people when something happens to them, they’ve got to get comfortable with it and then do what they’re supposed to do to live a long and healthy life and so I’ve done that.”

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USA Today via Reuters

The retired NBA star, in partnership with the pharmaceutical company GSK, continues to spread awareness about respiratory syncytial (RSV) and HIV. Another person who relentlessly worked to educate people about the virus was American activist Hydeia Broadbent. She was born with HIV, which turned into AIDS. Sadly, she passed away on Feb. 20.

“It’s a Burden”: HIV Fighter Magic Johnson Once Disclosed Hardships of Overcoming Life-Threatening Disease

Johnson had known Broadbent since 1992. She was a 7-year-old then. A young Broadbent shared her story on the Nickelodeon special ‘A Conversation with Magic’. “She was a beautiful person who touched so many of us and did a lot for the HIV and AIDS community… a lot of people owe her a lot because she changed a lot of people’s lives,” said Johnson about her in the KTLA interview.

Magic Johnson’s important role in reducing HIV stigma 

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Nov. 7, 1991: The day Johnson shared his story with the world in a press conference. Magic Johnson was just 32 and post the announcement, people thought his career was over. It was, in fact, not. While he stated he was retiring, just a few months later, he came back to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star game, and on the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team.

“I plan on going on living for a long time, bugging you guys like I always have,” he told the media during his 1991 announcement. This statement challenged the false belief that people with HIV couldn’t live a long and fulfilling life. He made his diagnosis publically known during a time when HIV was seen as a death sentence and misconceptions about the virus were high. But did you know his HIV announcement had a rippling effect?

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The month following his announcement, HIV testing requests rose by nearly 60% in New York City. Further, federal funding also increased in the early 1990s following an increase in discussions around it. Further, Magic Johnson’s docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ also discussed how his HIV diagnosis deeply affected him.

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Johnson has survived over 30 years with this diagnosis. Today, he is worth $1.2B and is just the fourth athlete billionaire, as per ‘Forbes’.

$155 Billion Company’s Faith in Magic Johnson After Tragic Announcement Helped Begin Billionaire Journey

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Written by:

Daksh Saini

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Daksh Saini is an NBA writer at Essentially Sports, where his passion for basketball converges with insightful analysis. Daksh specializes in crafting compelling articles that delve into the legacies of NBA legends. His unique perspective, coupled with a deep understanding of the game, allows him to offer readers nuanced commentary and engaging narratives focused on the iconic figures who have shaped the history of professional basketball.
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Edited by:

Jacob Gijy