Donald Sterling’s Rants Fuel HIV Stigmatization
May 13, 2014 by Andrea Levario, Senior Public Policy Advocate
Two weeks ago, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banished from participating in almost any activity related to that team, or the NBA, for making discriminatory remarks about African-Americans. Last night, during an interview with Anderson Cooper, instead of simply trying to apologize for his racist comments, Sterling dug his hole even deeper by deriding former Lakers star Magic Johnson for contracting HIV. Ignorant comments like these fuel discrimination and further stigmatize individuals with HIV and AIDS.
Since revealing his HIV status in 1991, Magic Johnson has been an important spokesman for HIV/AIDS awareness. He’s used his public platform to bridge the education gap about who contracts HIV and dispel the myths about who is at risk. His graceful pivot from the NBA to the schoolyard court, raising awareness and interacting with people of all ages and races, has done much to de-stigmatize HIV. To convey the critically important messages of knowing one’s status and receiving early treatment, the Magic Johnson Foundation has established mobile clinics to bring testing directly to communities where such sites are not readily available. Johnson’s ongoing efforts to address the epidemic, particularly within the African American community, speak volumes about his commitment and character.
Magic Johnson’s playbook on HIV/AIDS and equality is no secret. Mr. Sterling would do well to ask for a copy and use it as a guide.
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