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When Magic made his announcement, he says he didn't worry about a negative reaction from his family and closest friends, but he did occasionally run into ignorance. "Some people who used to give you the handshake and the hug, they'd give you the peace sign now, or the power sign," Magic says.

After playing on the historic Olympic "Dream Team" in 1992, Magic even tried to make an NBA comeback in 1995. But some other players in the league were upset, believing, incorrectly, that it was possible to contract HIV in the course of game play. "We were uneducated at that time," Magic says. "We had to educate everybody about the disease. You couldn't get it by playing basketball against me or high-fiving me or hugging me."

Spurred by Magic's announcement, the public, especially in minority communities, became educated about the realities of HIV and AIDS. In recent years, Magic says he's witnessed a turn. "When I first announced, everybody reacted. Now they're going back," Magic says. "In our community, we have so many issues in terms of black men in prison, and then also living a double life, on the down low. ... And then a lot of people who get HIV who are minorities feel they can't go to their families because of what their family's reaction is going to be."
FROM: NBA Legend Magic Johnson and the New Faces of HIV/AIDS in America
Published on October 26, 2006


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