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AIDS Educ Prev. 1994 Dec;6(6):542-57.

Magic Johnson and public attitudes toward AIDS: a review of empirical findings.

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Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR) Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


The public announcement of HIV seropositivity and early professional retirement of basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson acted as a naturalistic experimental manipulation of media representations of persons living with HIV infection. This article reviews empirical studies of psychological and behavioral changes that occurred following the announcement. Several studies reported substantial increases in public interest in HIV/AIDS-related information and public awareness of AIDS, as well as changes in high-risk behaviors. Increases in calls to AIDS hotlines and increased rates of HIV antibody testing were also observed. However, most effects were short-lived, subsiding within three weeks of the announcement, and few changes in AIDS-related knowledge or personal risk perceptions were reported. Patterns of results indicated different levels of impact among high- and low-risk groups and among ethnic groups. Findings across studies are consistent with previous research on media effects on public attitudes and theories of risk perception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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