HEALTH

Magic Johnson commends Obama, urges more HIV/AIDS funding at Howard University Hospital

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In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Magic Johnson stopped by Howard University Hospital in Northwest Washington Thursday.

The Hall-of-Fame basketball player thanked the staff for their work with patients. And he encouraged students to be safe and get tested.

It's been 17 years since he retired from the NBA, but Earvin Johnson still has that magic, wowing crowds with his huge smile.

Using that star power, Magic continues raising awareness about HIV and AIDS, especially among young people in the black community. Nearly 40 percent of all infections in the U.S. are among African Americans.

Speaking at Howard University Hospital, Johnson encouraged newly diagnosed patients to become comfortable with their HIV-positive status and treat themselves the way they'd want to be treated by

Doctors and medical staff were thrilled to meet Johnson.

"I'm really in awe of him, not for his accomplishments as a basketball player, but as a human being," Sohail Rana, M.D., says. "From the time he was diagnosed, speaking up has done a lot. I think things would have been a lot worse. He normalized the discussion about HIV."

Johnson said he'd meet with President Obama at the White House, later in the day, to discuss funding for the AIDS drug assistance program.

"President Obama has done a wonderful job, I think better than any president on HIV and AIDS, bringing it to the forefront," Johnson says. " Also he backed it up with funding as well."

Whether or not Obama speaks about it in his State of the Union address, Johnson says he's confident the president will continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

Johnson says he also continues to lobby Congress for more healthcare funding.

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