Bush asks Magic to join AIDS panel Johnson is viewed as building support

November 12, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has asked Magic Johnson to join the National Commission on AIDS, the federal agency established to develop a consensus on AIDS policy.

Johnson's agent is expected to discuss the proposed appointment today, said Connie Horner, a White House personnel officer.

The commission studies AIDS policies and reports on them.

Johnson, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 12 seasons, announced his retirement Thursday because tests show he has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Johnson said he planned to become a spokesman on HIV.

Members of the commission said yesterday that they hoped Johnson would join them because they believe that he might endorse commission positions, some of which have yet to find White House backing.

"Someone of his charisma and persuasiveness can only be helpful," said June E. Osborn, the commission's chairman.

She said that she has found that commission members' personal politics were unimportant because "once people learn the basic facts of policy, there is a remarkable harmony," she said. The commission has 15 members, appointed by the president and Congress. The 12 voting members are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

The co-chairman of the commission, Dr. David Rogers, said Johnson could deliver a message to teen-agers.

"I can't tell you how many calls from teachers I've had saying, 'This is all my kids want to talk about,' " he said. "They want the story on heterosexual transmission and transmission at or before birth."

Some of the issues the commission has reported on include federal financing for AIDS research, discrimination at work and in insurance and whether doctors should be tested routinely for AIDS.

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