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When Magic and his wife, Cookie, learned Magic was diagnosed with HIV, they say they were scared of both the disease and going public with the information. "At the time, you know, HIV and AIDS were looked at as this horrible disease that you could catch just by touching someone. ... Fifteen years ago we were still pretty ignorant," Cookie says. "I felt people just would not embrace us. We're very private people and I wanted to keep it private. I was ready to fight it, but I wanted to do it privately. I didn't think we had to do it with the whole world."
But after a meeting with Elizabeth Glaser, who was dying from AIDS at the time, Magic had a different idea. "I talked to [Elizabeth] about two or three times and she said, 'The only thing I want you to do is to become the face of HIV and AIDS. You can really change things. You're going to live for a long time because there are a lot of great medicines coming down the pipeline, but I really want you to go public because people really need to know that HIV and AIDS are out here in a big way.'"