Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Magic Johnson AIDS Day

Nothing changed the attitudes towards AIDS in this country more than the announcement 15 years ago today that Magic Johnson was HIV positive. Before Magic Johnson's announcement many people thought that AIDS was just a gay disease and even more people thought that being HIV positive was tantamount to a death sentence. Magic Johnson "attaining" the AIDS virus changed that.

AIDS is still pandemic. It has been estimated that AIDS is responsible for the death of over 25 million people world wide (about 3 million in 2005). In the developed world treatments are available to help keep the disease in check. These drug cocktails, however, are expensive. Too expensive for most in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is rampant. The Bush Administration has tried to fight the spread of AIDS by asking Congress for $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa where the spread of the disease is the worst.

Magic Johnson was a great basketball player but he is even greater as a symbol of hope for those infected with HIV. We seem to have a day for everything these days. Shouldn't Magic Johnson as a symbol of hope in the fight against AIDS get a day too?

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