Johnson to begin taking AZT upon his return from vacation

November 11, 1991|By Mark Heisler and Marlene Cimons | Mark Heisler and Marlene Cimons,Los Angeles Times

For a world hanging on every word, Magic Johnson's agent says Johnson is well and vacationing with his wife, Cookie, at a secret site.

"He's just going to stay away until he wants to come back," Lon Rosen said.

Rosen says Johnson will begin taking the drug AZT upon his return, adding that doctors have said it isn't important to start immediately.

Although no action was taken until initial results were confirmed, Rosen says Johnson first learned that he had tested positive for the HIV virus after returning alone from the Lakers' preseason trip to Salt Lake City on Oct. 25.

"When he got back from Paris [Oct. 20], he was tired," Rosen said. "He didn't feel good. He may have had the flu. It was `D probably more of a cold than anything else."

On Oct. 25, Johnson flew to Salt Lake City but returned the same day. He later said he had felt faint.

At about the same time, results of a test Johnson had taken for a life insurance policy came back, showing positive for HIV.

"Sunday [Oct. 27] some more blood was drawn and sent to a lab to be tested," Rosen said. "Obviously we wanted to make sure the test was what it was . . .

"The good part about it was, this had nothing to do with the HIV virus. He was able to fight it off. One had nothing to do with the other, which made the doctors very happy.

"Obviously, when you get this disease, it's a problem with the immune system and his immune system was working fine. So he feels absolutely fine. He's been working out constantly since maybe Oct. 28, running, shooting baskets, lifting weights. And he's been continuing that. Today he ran. He worked out, and he finally got to shoot some baskets."

Rosen says Johnson intends to attend Lakers practices and games.

"The only thing I know, pretty soon he wants to come back to BTC Lakers games," Rosen said. "He did Arsenio Hall's show and he left early because he wanted to watch the Lakers [on television from Phoenix]. He enjoys it. It isn't painful for him.

"He wants to be involved in everything. He's already got a list of players to recommend to [general manager] Jerry West."

Rosen says he has been told by all of Johnson's corporate partners -- Pepsi Cola, Converse, Kentucky Fried Chicken among others -- that they intend to maintain their relationships and some say they want to extend them.

Also yesterday, it was learned the Bush administration is considering naming Johnson to the National Commission on AIDS. He would fill the vacancy on the commission left by the recent death from AIDS of Belinda Mason.

Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan is said ** to be enthusiastic about the idea and is expected to lobby the White House to make the appointment.

The 15-member commission was created by federal statute to advise Congress and the White House on the development of a national policy to combat the epidemic. Mason, who was the only AIDS-afflicted member of the panel until her death in September, was a White House appointment. Thus, the slot will be filled by President Bush.

"There is an enormous groundswell of support for this [Johnson's appointment]," Dr. June E. Osborn, who chairs the commission, said yesterday. "His name has come up over and over again in the last few days. I think it would be marvelous. I cannot think of a more wonderful appointment that could be made than to have him.

"There is no question in my mind that Magic Johnson has achieved a breakthrough that will result in a fundamental sea change," she added. "I have been frantic to get the message across to children and youth and I know damn well that I can't do it. He can."

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