Originally published on Advocate.com October 16 2004 12:00 AM ET
National Basketball Association legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson and current star Yao Ming helped launch an AIDS awareness campaign in China this week that aims to educate residents of the world's most populous nation about how to protect themselves from HIV infection. Johnson and Yao appear in a series of television announcements that will be held in conjunction with the first-ever NBA games played in China. Yao is a native of China and the starting center for the Houston Rockets. Johnson, a former Los Angeles Lakers superstar, discovered in 1991 that he had become HIV-positive. In four English- and Chinese-language ads, Yao and Johnson play basketball together, embrace, and share a meal as part of their efforts to educate viewers about the misconceptions of how HIV is spread. Viewers are asked to visit a Chinese-language Web site, www.aids333.com, to learn more about the disease and HIV prevention. The ads, organized by the Chinese AIDS Initiative, were launched on Thursday. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates that 10 million to 20 million Chinese will be infected with HIV by the year 2010 unless immediate action is taken to prevent the disease's spread.