Basketball legend Magic Johnson and director Spike Lee are teaming up to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS in a new set of public service announcements.
Directed by Lee, the two PSAs – “Stand” and “Talk” – feature Johnson, 48, and his wife Cookie, 49, encouraging the public to get informed about the disease, especially the younger population.
“I think a lot of times we just don’t have the information,” Johnson tells PEOPLE. “Especially young people. They think they’re invincible and nothing can happen to them but the numbers are showing that those getting HIV are real young now. We have to now do something about that.”
The former Lakers star, who announced he was HIV positive in 1991, says there’s no excuse for not getting tested.
“If it was 16, 17, 18, 19 years ago you should be afraid because you don’t know what might happen and people were dying at alarming rates,” he says. “Now you have almost 30 drugs that can take care of you, and you can live a healthy and long life.”
Cookie, who is on a five-city speaking tour, hopes to get the word out because awareness, she says, has subsided. She’s focusing her attention on minority women and young adults, including her own three children.
“They come home with questions and we definitely talk to them,” she says. “That’s another part of the message: family, talking to children about (the disease). We have to really open up and start talking about this. It has to start at home.”
The PSAs are being launched by the Magic Johnson Foundation and Abbott, a global, broad-based health care company.
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