Today we thought we’d start a new mini-series on our STD blog. HIV is one of the most common STDs out there. Many people know about HIV and AIDS, but many don’t realize that 1) HIV is technically an STD, 2) Just because you have HIV, it doesn’t mean you have AIDS and 3) Many advancements have been made in the past 20 years to make the situation better for those who test HIV positive.
Looking to Celebs for HIV Guidance
Who better to shed light on a topic in a culture than celebrities? From fashion to pets and footwear, we look to celebs to guide us through many life topics. Sometimes it begins and ends with appearance or what we should serve for dinner. Other times, we look to celebs for much more. Political opinions. Friendship and relationship advice. Name any issue and there’s probably a celebrity that we, as a culture, look to for pointers. So why would it be any different when it comes to HIV?
Although many celebs have been outspoken about their personal health battles, one issue that hasn’t received a ton of exposure is celebs with HIV. Given the occurrence rate of HIV in our culture (over 33 million), it’s likely that many of those individuals who we watch on the silver screen or the boob tube do indeed carry the virus. However in a culture that’s still very “hush hush” about HIV, it tends not to be broadcasted. That is, unless you’re a few brave souls.
Magic Johnson – HIV Positive
The celeb most notable for being HIV positive is probably basketball player Magic Johnson. On November 7, 1991, he did what many have since done, and many more will do: broadcasted to the world that he was HIV positive. Once his news was out, fans suddenly grew weary. While he continued to play ball, his all-star reputation became overshadowed by his disease. And amongst the crackdown on sports protection and flurry of activity surrounding how to treat those with HIV, Magic Johnson stood tall. He gracefully and bravely made HIV his mission and opened up the Magic Johnson Foundation, a now 20-year organization that “works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.” According to the Foundation,
Through the “I Stand with Magic” campaign, the Magic Johnson Foundation has provided free HIV/AIDS testing to more than 38,000 Americans in 16 major cities. Additionally, the program has educated nearly 280,000 people about HIV, risk factors associated with the disease and the importance of HIV testing. Since 2003 our partnership with AIDs Healthcare Clinics has tested over, 3,750 adults and identified positive results for over 1000 testers.
Saluting Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is a great celeb to look to for inspiration and hope (for any reason) – but especially if you’ve tested HIV positive. Twenty years ago fans and friends never expected he would still be alive today. But his story goes to show that HIV DOES NOT necessarily lead to AIDS. Magic Johnson is living proof.
Take a pointer from Magic Johnson and realize that saving your life could begin with initial HIV testing. New Rapid HIV tests let you know within 20 minutes or less if you have the disease. From there, if positive, you tackle it one day at a time, just like Magic Johnson. Get the right doctors and medications in place. Have a plan. Be committed to treatment. Stay engaged with your life.
There’s hope if you are HIV positive. Being proactive early on will hopefully allow you to be one of the many looking back in 20 years, just like this all-star athlete, and seeing the difference you’ve made on the world.