NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson was the keynote speaker Saturday at a free health expo that offered innovative solutions for various health issues facing many Black communities, including HIV/AIDS. “When I tested positive for HIV I ask
NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson was the keynote speaker Saturday at a free health expo that offered innovative solutions for various health issues facing many Black communities, including HIV/AIDS.
“When I tested positive for HIV, I asked my doctor so many questions he had to bring in other doctors to help him answer all my questions,” Johnson said at the event. “But that’s the key to knowing your health status and that’s to ask questions.”
The “Magic@50” Community Expo was held at the Harold Washington Cultural Center on the South Side and was moderated by CNN and Tom Joyner Morning Show contributor, Roland S. Martin.
Johnson said getting the right information about your health status is critical to knowing how to treat it.
Health literacy is an issue that impacts a significant portion of the population, Ill. Dept. of Public Health Director Damon Arnold, M.D., said. He was one of the panelists at the expo that was sponsored by Aetna health insurance company and Magic Johnson Enterprises.
Arnold explained that more than 90 million Americans have trouble understanding medical information, with seven out of 10 individuals in Black and Hispanic communities finding it difficult to understand health information.
“There is a lot I did not know about HIV/AIDS and high blood pressure,” said Martin Stevens, 50, who attended the expo. “I found out that I could reduce my blood pressure by eating right and walking. I also learned that people with AIDS can still have sex as long as they practice safe sex and use condoms.”
Diabetes was also among the health issues discussed at the expo. The debilitating disease plagues many Black communities.
Janna Silver, 67, is a diabetic and takes medication to maintain her health.
“I watch what I eat, I exercise and I take my medicine regularly,” she said. “And even with all that, I still learned new ways to better improve my health. More expos are needed like this so the community can be better informed about how to take care of themselves.”
The former Los Angeles Lakers star said minorities typically do not have health insurance so their health care choices are often limited.
“I know a lack of health insurance is a major problem in minority communities but with that said, there are still free health services available and minorities need to access these free services,” Johnson told the Defender. “As a parent of a 13 year-old daughter, 16- year-old son and a 27-year-old son, my wife and I have our job cut out for us. But the same thing I tell audiences all over the country when I speak, I tell my children–including my adult son–the same thing.”
Ronald Williams, chairman and CEO of Aetna, who is among a small group of Black CEOs on Wall Street, said Aetna partnered with Johnson to get the word out that there are ways to combat health issues plaguing many communities.
“Most Americans have the power to improve their health but need encouragement and support to achieve and maintaining optimal state of health,” he said. “With this campaign, Aetna and Magic Johnson are working to make health information simple and easy, and build awareness among individuals and families.”
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