Throughout the years, there has been a stigma in the U.S. about HIV – it’s one of those diseases that most people hesitate to discuss, even though 1.2 million Americans have been diagnosed, and 50,000 new infections arise each year. That all changed in the 90s, when basketball star Magic Johnson publicly announced that he had contracted the life-threatening virus. For a while, people began publicly discussing the subject and learning about safe sex and prevention methods.
Unfortunately, 20 years later, many people still don’t get tested for fear of judgment in a public setting. But Johnson wouldn’t be, well, magical, if he didn’t step into the spotlight and fight for more awareness and alternate early detection methods. “If there’s a rally or someone needs my help in the fight against HIV and AIDS, I’m going to be there,” Johnson said at a recent press event. And that’s exactly what he did. Now on the market nationwide from OraSure Technologies is OraQuick, the first in-home HIV test. In the comfort of your own home, you can use an oral swab and know in 20 minutes whether or not strands of HIV-1 and -2 are detected.
“The reason I’m standing here, 21 years after I found out I have HIV, is because of early detection,” says Johnson. “A lot of people don’t want to go to their doctors or an HIV/AIDS clinic. Now we’ve taken that excuse away from them. I think it’s going to help drive more people to know their status and ultimately, that’s what we want.”
While we think this could definitely impact the number of people who are getting tested in a positive way, we have to wonder what happens if the test comes back positive? Without a doctor sitting next to them, will they have the comfort and education they need when hit with life-altering news?
Fortunately, an information packet and 24/7 hotline number is included in every test kit, which includes what next steps people should take if they found out they’re positive.
Johnson also notes that consistently taking his medication and having a stable fitness routine is his “secret sauce” for living out a long, healthy life despite his diagnosis. And since we’re big basketball fans over at FITNESS, we grabbed a few minutes of his time to find out more about his daily routine.
You seem to have a solid routine down for your work and fitness schedules. What types of workouts do you like to explore?
I train with my trainer at Equinox every day for an hour. I’ll stretch for a half hour before, work with her, and then I do cardio for an hour. I really like the Drenched class with Michael Blanks, Billy’s brother. I do that class five days a week. I had trained with Billy for almost 20 years, he even trained me for the Olympics, but when he went overseas, I joined Michael.
How do you feel like a regular workout has impacted your daily life?
I can’t do what I do without it. It’s given me the energy I need; it’s kept me lean and mean! It’s been good for my soul and my mind. I’m a worker, so without that workout I can’t have the energy and stamina I need to work all day. So working out is just part of my daily routine. I crave it.
Do you still play basketball from time to time?
I shoot sometimes, but I’m a business man now, so I don’t have time to do it a lot. I watch the game though, and I’m on ESPN and ABC as an analyst.
Now you tell us: Would you take an at-home HIV test?