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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: ESPN to Show Film on Johnson's HIV Disclosure
Dave Itzkoff
February 17, 2012
New York Times (02.11.12) - Friday, February 17, 2012

More than 20 years after basketball great Magic Johnson stunned the world with his announcement that he had contracted HIV, ESPN and the NBA will debut a documentary examining his decision.

Filmmaker and writer Nelson George, also a contributor to the New York Times, said he wanted to show the inside story of Johnson's personal deliberations but also to "make people aware [HIV/AIDS] hasn't disappeared." "People are still dying of the virus. People are living very tough lives because of it," George said. "It's falling off the national agenda, I believe, and this in some way helps us reintroduce it." "The Announcement" is slated to run on ESPN March 11. It includes interviews with Johnson friend and confidant Arsenio Hall, longtime fan Chris Rock, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Brooklyn-based AIDS activist Andrea Williams, who also is the filmmaker's sister. But George noted the interviews with Johnson, some of which were conducted at the Forum in Los Angeles where he played as a Laker and disclosed his illness, were "the key to everything." According to George, "for a lot of people of a certain age" Johnson's announcement was the equivalent of "the Kennedy assassination or the King assassination." "He's the biggest star in the NBA. He's one of the biggest stars in professional sports, and he comes up with this disease, which at that time is an immediate killer. So even though he's walking there and standing in front of everyone giving this press conference, as Karl Malone says, they think they're seeing a dead man walking."

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