I applaud Magic Johnson for being honest about having contracted the AIDS virus (I'll Deal With It, Nov. 18). It takes a big man to announce that he has this disease. I am sorry that this had to happen to Magic for America to realize that AIDS can affect just about anybody.
We all owe Earvin Johnson a great deal of respect and support. He has always given of himself, be it devoting time to charitable causes or being the first to accept a bid to play on our Olympic basketball team or, now, becoming a spokesperson in the fight against AIDS. Some may mourn the passing of a career, but it makes more sense to accept the present and seize the future as Johnson is doing. We may have lost a star athlete, but we have not lost an idol.
A doctor friend whose office is in the same building as that of Laker physician Michael Mellman told me that on Oct. 25 my friend's secretaries learned that Magic Johnson was in the building. They waited in the lobby to ask him for his autograph. When Johnson appeared, he stopped and pleasantly signed his name for the secretaries. As we now know, Mellman had just told Johnson that he had tested positive for the HIV virus. Johnson could easily have brushed past these secretaries, especially considering the state of shock he must have been in. But he didn't.
Johnson's story is tragic, and his offer to become an activist in the battle against AIDS is courageous. He admits that before he contracted HIV, he was not fully aware of the risk of unprotected sex. Unfortunately, he still does not realize that the best way to avoid this disease is abstinence from promiscuous sex. With a failure rate as high as 10%, wearing a condom is not the cure-all that Magic is now advocating.
ROBERT BRYCE THOMPSON
December 23, 1991
•When Johnson returned to his hometown of Lansing, Mich., for Thanksgiving, he said in a television interview that he would begin emphasizing abstinence from sex outside marriage rather than safe sex as the best way to prevent contracting the AIDS virus.—ED.
It's amazing to me that these high-salaried male athletes continue to blame women for their woes and their lack of self-control (Dangerous Games, Nov. 18). What will it take for these athletes to start accepting responsibility for their actions?
SYLVETTE G. LONG
New York City
Kudos to Matt Millen of the Redskins, the only one of 17 athletes quoted in Dangerous Games who recognized that abstention from sex until marriage is the only answer to the HIV/AIDS problem.
JAMES R. PROVOST
In Dangerous Games, a picture is painted of pushy, aggressive women relentlessly pursuing their hapless victims. By contrast, Magic Johnson, who's typically honest and open in his article, took responsibility for his behavior. Compare that to the quote from Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks. Referring to the women who make themselves available to pro athletes, he said, "If they had a life, they wouldn't be hanging around the hotel or showing up at the back door of the arena trying to pick up a player." If Wilkins had a life, he would have better things to do than engage in casual sex with strangers.
To millions of people Magic is more than just an athlete. Those who don't understand this should read Leigh Montville's Like One of the Family (Nov. 18). Magic has been a part of my family for the past 12 years. My brother and I have been through a lot with him, and I'm sure we'll go through a lot more.
Livermore Falls, Maine
I have received that phone call saying my sister was killed in an automobile accident, and I have heard the announcement that Magic Johnson is HIV-positive. For Montville to suggest that my emotional response to both of these events would be similar is absurd. There is a wide chasm of emotion separating sadness and grief.
In his POINT AFTER (NOV. 18) Randy Shilts ridicules Vice-President Dan Quayle for suggesting that young people should practice abstinence. Have our morals sunk so low that we can't even ask our children to consider this as an alternative?
Sally Jenkins echoes the view of many women—and men—about Johnson's sexual escapades (POINT AFTER, NOV. 25). I salute Jenkins for her insight into this American tragedy, especially her point about how the public would respond to, say, Jackie Joyner-Kersee if she disclosed that she had slept with legions of men and had contracted HIV from one of them. Jenkins's piece should be required reading for everyone.
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