Coverage sickens

This letter’s purpose is to address the somewhat recent issue of HIV and Magic Johnson. The entire media outburst over Magic’s HIV infection is sickening. I have much sympathy for anyone with a debilitating terminal disease; I also appreciate the awareness which has grown out of Magic’s heterosexual transmission of the virus. However, the commercialization of this incident is excessive and unnecessary.

Just the other day, I went into a bookstore and saw three books, side by side, documenting Magic’s spectacular career and courageous fight against HIV. Anyone who has ever had HIV is equally or more courageous than Magic—that includes the millions of people worldwide whose stories are not meticulously documented by positive press or paperback books.

To Magic’s credit, three issues have surfaced or been reinforced due to his exaggerated publicity: mandatory HIV testing, discrimination against HIV infected persons, and prevention. In hearing arguments (or reading them in the Star), it is obvious that there is a glaring lack of education on these issues. Arguing about mandatory HIV testing in order to systematically discriminate against HIV positive individuals is against any and every individual’s right to privacy. This is especially true when one considers the stigma attached to HIV. Discrimination against people with HIV is just like discrimination against any other group of people. It involves acting on generalized assumptions and fears about certain groups of people, and evolves directly from a lack of education.

The way to prevent HIV is not by keeping certain individuals off the basketball court, out of the dentist’s office, or out of our country. Prevention of HIV is achieved only by educating oneself and by using that education. Discrimination may hide the problem away, but it won’t solve it—only education and individual effort will.

Cheryl Arundel, RN


Bachelor of Arts