Lavern Spicer, an anti-vaxx Florida Republican running for the House of Representatives, has come under fire for a tweet in which she used NBA legend Magic Johnson's HIV status to criticize an NBA team's adherence to a New York vaccine mandate.
Like many anti-vaxxers and conservatives, Spicer seized on the news NBA team the Brooklyn Nets' will be benching player Kyrie Irving from games and practices because of his refusal to disclose his vaccination status.
Kyrie Irving's spokesperson stated the player is protesting companies and government entities firing people who refuse to be vaccinated. But they made it clear the Nets' point/shooting guard is not an anti-vaxxer.
Irving himself finally broke his silence on the New York vaccine mandate via a video on Instagram Live.
To Spicer, the Nets' decision smacked of a double standard, claiming the NBA allowed Magic Johnson to continue playing after he was diagnosed as HIV positive. It was a charge that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of of both HIV and Covid-19.
Naturally, a backlash ensued.
See the tweet that started it all below.
"They let Magic Johnson play basketball with FULL-BLOWN HIV but won't let Kyrie Irving play because he won't get a COVID shot."
Let's unpack this a bit, shall we?
Firstly, LA Lakers' star Johnson immediately retired from the NBA in November 1991 after a preseason physical provided an HIV-positive diagnosis. But he did play for the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" without incident, helping the United States win a gold medal.
Johnson did attempt a comeback in the NBA for the 1992-1993 season based on his Olympic experience. But after he suffered a cut that produced blood during an exhibition game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Johnson decided to end his NBA career.
Johnson said regarding the incident:
"Because, you know, you could see the fear upon people's faces."
"Yeah, just saying, 'OK, is it all right? Did he bandage it all? Is it all bandaged up? Is it all right? It's not leaking?' You know, that whole thing."
Secondly, if you're wondering what "FULL-BLOWN HIV" is, that's because it's not a thing. HIV is a virus.
It causes a disease called AIDS which, it's worth noting, Johnson has never to our knowledge even had, as is the case for most HIV-positive people now in the United States because advancements in the treatment for the virus.
Most importantly, there is no comparison between HIV and coronavirus in the first place.
HIV can only be transmitted through direct contact with blood and some bodily fluids, like during penetrative sex, a blood transfusion or intravenous drug use.
It is now well known it is not transmittable via social activities like playing basketball. Science established this almost 30 years ago although it took time for the hysteria from the beginning of the AIDS crisis—which contributed to Johnson's decision to retire—to subside.
Today, people know an HIV+ status doesn't inevitably lead to AIDS like it did before treatments were available. And when patients' viral load becomes undetectable—by use of treatments like PrEP—they cannot transmit HIV to even their sexual partners.
On the other hand, coronaviruses like the one that causes Covid-19 are spread via droplets exhaled from a person's mouth or nose—which happens during everything from coughing and sneezing to simply speaking and breathing. Those activities occur often on a basketball court.
But Spicer already knows all of this but made her case with a false equivalency anyway.
She made it clear she knew her comparison was faulty in her response to the pushback on her original tweet.
Given it was Spicer asserting there was a comparison between HIV and Covid-19 in the first place, a thorough roasting immediately ensued.
Spicer previously ran for the House in Florida's 24th District in 2020, when she lost to incumbent Democrat Frederica Wilson by more than 55 points.