Earvin “Magic” Johnson described himself as "the blessing and the curse of HIV" in an interview with Anderson Cooper and also opened up about his gay son who came out publicly a few months ago.
"I'm the blessing because people were talking about it, they ran out and got tested at that time. Then I'm the curse because…people now say, oh well, HIV is nothing because if I get it I can be like Magic. He's doing good, and I can do the same thing he's doing or take the same medicine he's taking and I'll be okay," Johnson said. "But what they don't understand, in 22 years, millions of people have died."
More than two decades ago, when the basketball legend tested positive for HIV, Johnson was taking a 15 pills three times a day. Now, he takes three pills once a day at dinnertime.
Johnson helped change attitudes, and his good health is a testament to how far treatment has come. However, he’s concerned about African American and Latino communities where the number of HIV infections among men who have sex with men is proportionally higher than other groups.
A father of three, including his 20-year-old gay son, Johnson spoke about challenges gay family members have in his community.
"Just like my son E.J. came out, it was important that Cookie and I support our son. We love our son, we're going to support him 150 percent, but we're one of the minorities in this," Johnson said. "In the black community, young gay men or young ladies who are lesbians, they're afraid to tell their parents."
To pastors and Christians who expressed concerns to him about his son being gay, Johnson said he told them, "Hey, I love my son, nothing is going to change that. I don't care if you don't agree and you don't want to deal with me or don't like me, that's on you, but I said tell me when it hits your own family..."
Johnson said he has worked with members of the gay community to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS since he tested positive 22 years ago, and he hopes they will provide support to his son.
"What I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son, right - give him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man. Things that I can't talk about, that I don't know about, they can help him."
He believes E.J.’s decision to come out publicly has helped save lives too.
"A lot of young people decided to tell their parents once he came out, and so it was great to see that."
Take a look at some behind-the-scenes photos from their interview:
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