On November 7, 1991, basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, announced that he was retiring from the Lakers due to his HIV-positive status:
“For the kids, that’s why I am gonna be a spokesperson for this HIV virus. I want them to understand that safe sex in the way to go ... Here I am saying that it can happen to anybody. Even me, Magic Johnson, it can happen to.”
Nearly 20 years later, Magic Johnson is unquestionably an HIV/AIDS spokesperson. He has spent the better part of two decades advocating tirelessly for health education and running community-based programming -- much of which specifically focuses on the HIV virus -- through the Magic Johnson Foundation and its “I Stand With Magic” campaign.
Johnson is just one of many celebrities who have dedicated their star power and influence to a health-related cause. And these famous faces may be able to have more of an effect on people's behaviors than the rest us. An online poll conducted in May by NBCUniversal found that 81 percent of respondents believed that “television has the power to educate ... consumers to lead healthier lives,” and 57 percent attributed much of this power to on-air personalities.
If a familiar face can sell a product, perhaps the same principle applies when it comes to health education. As Chris Noth, spokesperson for Ask.Screen.Know (a diabetes screening campaign) told The Huffington Post in June, “People know me from ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Law and Order.’ If I can get their attention, then so be it."
We’ve put together a list of some celebrities who use their (oft-pretty) faces to encourage Americans to become educated about domestic and global health issues. Who knows? Maybe their stories will even inspire you to get involved.