U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, not known for her grasp of science, has sent out a tweet making a misleading comparison between COVID-19 and HIV.
“The fascist NBA won’t let Kyrie Irving play for refusing a vaccine,” the conspiracy-mongering Georgia Republican posted on Twitter Thursday. “But yet they still let Magic Johnson play with HIV.”
Irving, a star with the Brooklyn Nets, has refused to be vaccinated against COVID, and New York City requires those who work in professional sports arenas and many other venues to have the vaccine. So he won’t be playing in any home games for the Nets this season, and apparently not in any road games either.
When Johnson announced his HIV diagnosis in 1991, he also announced his immediate retirement from pro basketball; at the time he was a key member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He did play on the U.S. team at the Olympics the following year and then attempted a comeback with the Lakers, then quickly retired again because he could see that other players feared transmission of the virus. He played for the Lakers again briefly in the 1995-1996 season.
Taylor’s tweet ignores the fact that it’s much harder to transmit HIV than COVID. HIV is spread through sexual contact and blood; it is not airborne, like COVID. Also, COVID vaccination would protect Irving himself as well as others. Some people who are fully vaccinated have been known to contract COVID, but the vaccine greatly cuts their chance of becoming seriously ill if they do become infected.
Thanks to advances in HIV treatment, Johnson remains healthy 30 years after announcing his diagnosis. The Basketball Hall of Famer is a successful entrepreneur and part owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.