Magic Johnson 25 Years Later: Sets The Record Straight On His HIV Status

ESPN Films "The Announcement" Los Angeles Premiere“Magic Johnson doesn’t have AIDS anymore!” someone blurted out during a lively discussion about safe sex in our community.  After this young person’s statement, others nodded their head in agreement.  While Johnson publicly delivered the news of his HIV status on national television back in 1991, he also has been publicly living his life–a pretty good life–with the disease, which many believe that he has either cured himself and no longer has the virus.

In the late 80s and early 90s when he was one of the most-beloved professional sports figures in the world making the announcement about his status, folks were reeling over Johnson’s revelation. The news of Magic Johnson having HIV forever changed the league, the franchise, all professional sports and the world. Many wondered how the virus could have crept in to the heterosexual realm, which at the time, was still considered a gay man’s or drug users disease.

As the years progressed, Johnson retired from his beloved sport, made multi-millions (and others billions) in the business sector, and became an AIDS activist. Soon, people began wondering how Johnson wasn’t losing weight and why didn’t he look sickly.

“I tell people all the time, early detection saved my life,” says Magic. “I was fortunate enough to get on the cocktail of drugs right was I was diagnosed. The drugs are doing their part and I’m doing my part of exercising, eating right and having a positive attitude about living with HIV.”

As Magic has an “un-detectable” level of HIV, many people wonder, what does that really mean? An HIV-positive person can achieve undetectable levels after undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). A level of a person’s HIV viral load is what causes them to be more or less likely to transmit the disease. An undetectable viral load reduces the likelihood of transmission by 96 percent. Once a person achieves an undetectable status, it is possible to remain at this level provided that the person is compliant with their ART medication.