Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Magic Johnson announced in 1991 that he had contracted HIV through unprotected sex.
There is no evidence that National Basketball Association players took part in a Hepatitis B vaccine program, as this post claims.
As conspiracies continue to spread that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing adverse health effects in athletes, a public health figure claimed something similar happened in the 1990s — specifically, that Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson contracted HIV after taking a contaminated vaccine.
Dr. Judy Mikovits, a controversial virologist who made headlines for spreading false claims in the COVID-19 conspiracy film "Plandemic," claimed in an interview that Johnson was among other National Basketball Association players who were exposed to HIV after taking a "contaminated hepatitis B vaccine." She made the comments in a video interview with Stew Peters, a far-right radio show host with his own history of spreading conspiracy theories about vaccines.
"They did not protect the NFL," Mikovits said in a clip from the interview that she shared in a Jan. 12 Instagram post and on Twitter. "They knew who was susceptible, just as they did with Magic Johnson and the NBA in 1991. They gave those men HIV, they did not give them AIDS, in a contaminated hepatitis B vaccine program. They drove an industry through the gain of function studies of Tony Fauci."
This was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Johnson, who spent his 13-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, has shared openly for more than 30 years that he contracted HIV through unprotected sex.
"I am certain that I was infected by having unprotected sex with a woman who has the virus. The problem is that I can’t pinpoint the time, the place or the woman. It’s a matter of numbers," he said.
Since his diagnosis, Johnson has been an outspoken advocate and activist for HIV and AIDS patients.
We reached out to Mikovits for evidence of her claim, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
We did not find any evidence or news reports showing that NBA players had participated in a hepatitis B vaccine program like the one Mikovits described. But we’ve seen many claims about vaccines containing HIV or causing AIDS over the last three years, all of them baseless.
This claim baseless too. We rate it claim Pants on Fire!
PolitiFact, Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, May 7, 2020
Judy Mikovits Instagram post, Jan. 12, 2023
Judy Mikovits Twitter post, Jan. 12, 2023
Ebony Magazine, 31 Years Later, Magic Johnson reflects on contracting HIV, Nov. 7, 2021
AP News, AP Was There: Magic announces he has HIV, retires from NBA, Feb. 23, 2022
Tallahassee Democrat, Magic Johnson's 1991 HIV positive announcement was a paradigm shift of change, still more to be done | Rory Sharrock, Nov. 7, 2021
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.