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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CALIFORNIA: Magic Johnson Marks 20 Years of Fighting HIV

November 9, 2011
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (11.08.11) - Wednesday, November 09,

On Monday, basketball icon Magic Johnson marked the 20th anniversary of his public announcement that he had HIV and would be retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers. Many thought at that time, in 1991, that Johnson was making his own death announcement. Instead, he became one of the most widely known people to educate others about the disease and created the Magic Johnson Foundation, which has an HIV prevention focus.

Surrounded by friends, family, former teammates, and the media at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Johnson presented a $1 million check to the foundation. Forty philanthropists, including Johnson's former Lakers coach Pat Riley, raised the donation by pledging $25,000 each.

"God is good," said Johnson. "Here I am 20 years later, wow, what a blessing." "I said 'I'm strong enough to deal with it between the two of us, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to deal with this and the whole world,'" said Johnson's wife, Cookie, recalling the couple's discussion before he publicly revealed his diagnosis. "But then he looked at me dead in the eyes and said, 'Cookie, I have to do this because I have to save as many lives as I possibly can.'" The foundation planned to administer up to 5,000 free HIV tests at 18 locations around the nation on Monday. It also has partnered with the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open full-service treatment centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Jacksonville, Fla.

"We've accomplished a lot in 20 years," Johnson said. "The Magic Johnson Foundation has given out over $10 million and tested about 250,000 people. We've done a lot and we will continue to do a lot." "It's been an amazing 20 years. Hopefully we have another amazing 20 years coming," the former NBA great said.