Happy (belated) birthday to Magic Johnson who turned 56 last week, after living with HIV for 24 years, according to Mic.
The NBA legend shocked the world when he revealed his positive status and retired from playing basketball for the LA Lakers in 1991 at the age of 32. At the time, few expected people with HIV to live long, much less to their middle ages. Johnson himself told PBS he thought his diagnosis was a death sentence.
At the time, AIDS was the No. 1 killer of men ages 25 to 44, but since then improvements in treatment have changed HIV from a terminal to a chronic illness.
Since then, the athlete turned activist has survived and thrived, giving birth to rumors that he'd somehow been cured of HIV. The rumors are so common, even South Park addressed them in this episode:
Johnson responded to the rumors himself last year on Hip-Hop Nation on Sirus XM Radio, saying he chalked his good health up to taking his medication and maintaining a positive attitude. (He's had to repeatedly come out and publicly say he's still HIV-positive about every two years if you believe Google.)
Johnson's life with HIV is not only remarkable for how long and healthy it has been, but also because he was so public about his status from the beginning. Johnson was among the first celebrities to come out about their status and he changed perceptions of the disease as a gay white man's problem. Johnson changed that when he revealed he'd been infected through heterosexual sexual contact, and his announcement encouraged people who never thought of HIV before to get tested.
In recent years, he's been a supporter of African-Americans in business in Los Angeles (via Magic Johnson Industries), the LGBT community (thanks to his gay son), and HIV research and advocacy.
Congrats, Magic and may you see many more years.