Magic Helps and Inspires Local HIV Patients

Earvin "Magic" Johnson in 1991
Earvin "Magic" Johnson in 1991
Jaimie Kahale
Jaimie Kahale
Paul Groesbeck
Paul Groesbeck

HONOLULU (KHNL) - November 7th marks a milestone anniversary for HIV patients.

15-years ago, basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced he was retiring from the game because he has HIV.

"Because of the HIV virus I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers today," said Johnson at a press conference on November 7, 1991.

It was news that shocked the world.

But for Jaimie Kahale, it served as inspiration.

A short time after Johnson's announcement, she discovered she also has HIV.

"All I knew at that time was Magic Johnson had it," said Kahale. "My perception of what this disease was was a gay, white man's disease."

For some time, Kahale didn't know how much time she had to live. But she watched the former basketball great continue to live his life.

"It's not a death sentence," said Paul Groesbeck, director of the Life Foundation.

"There's a lot of things you can do to extend your life, survive, and hopefully outlive AIDS."

After learning that she could do the same, Kahale had a goal.

"Wanting to make a difference in the community," she said. "Finding a purpose living with this disease, rather than trying to look forward to dying."

That purpose -- give back to the community. She'd do that by working at the Life Foundation, educating people about HIV and AIDS.

"I feel like I've turned something that may seem like a liability into an asset," said Kahale.

Kahale says she's healthy, and doing well. And now, she has bigger goals.

"My hope is that I'm alive long enough to see my grandchildren," she said.

She now has a good chance of doing that, thanks to a little magic.

The Life Foundation in hawaii says in the early 90s, it lost about 100 HIV patients per year. Last year, it lost just nine.

Officials say the drop is because of the advancements in medicine, and because of Magic Johnson, many patients are getting treatment