The Magic Johnson Effect

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 8 2011 @ 7:29pm

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of his HIV announcement. A look at how the basketball star changed public opinion on the virus:

Although views of homosexuals were associated with opinion about AIDS — those with less favorable views of homosexuals were in turn less likely to support spending for AIDS treatment and research — Mr. Johnson’s announcement made attitudes toward heterosexual sex a more important underpinning of opinion about AIDS. In particular, those with more conservative values (in this case, those who believe premarital sex is always or almost always wrong) became slightly less supportive of spending to fight AIDS. But those who believed that premarital sex was only sometimes or never wrong became more supportive of AIDS spending — by 15 points, in fact. Mr. Johnson’s announcement had shifted the types of values that people drew on when forming opinions about AIDS.