Twenty years ago this week, Magic Johnson shocked the world by announcing his retirement from basketball due to having tested positive for HIV (watch the press conference video here). At the time I was a thirteen year old Celtics fan so the news affected me on a couple of levels. First, I remember talking with my friends and speculating on how someone got HIV (as I recall it, in 1991 HIV / AIDS wasn’t a part of my middle school’s curriculum). Second, my friends and I were sure the Celtics would have an easier time with the Lakers without Magic on the floor (please don’t judge our insensitivity, we were 13 year old boys in New England and Larry Bird bordered on deity status with us).
A lot has changed in the twenty years since Magic Johnson’s announcement. HIV/ AIDS prevention is a part of health education programs in public schools everywhere and the general population’s understanding of the disease has changed significantly. But there is still a lot of work to do both in the US and globally to educate people about HIV / AIDS prevention. That’s where TeachAIDS enters the picture.
TeachAIDS is a non-profit organization backed in part by Stanford University whose goal is to educate people around the world about HIV / AIDS. TeachAIDS works toward that goal by producing and freely disseminating educational videos and software. The videos and software are available in a wide range of languages. To tackle issues that may be “taboo” in some cultures, the videos are customized to address those sensitive topics. In other words, the videos aren’t just the same product with a different voice-over. According to the TeachAIDS website, in the near future you will be able to download copies of their software for free. Watch an overview of TeachAIDS in the two minute video below.