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Magic Johnson: U.S. Has Lot To Learn About Sex Education From Europe

May 11, 1993

DEN BOSCH, Netherlands (AP) _ Magic Johnson says America has a lot to learn from Europe about sex education.

The former NBA star-turned-AIDS activist said Tuesday during a basketball tour that Europeans’ candidness about sex raises awareness about the sexually transmitted disease.

″Sex is being talked about (in Europe). It’s a thing that’s wide open in terms of talking about it at an early age,″ Johnson told a news conference.

″In America we whisper about it, it’s part of our society, but we’re gonna have to get used to it.″

Johnson, who announced in 1991 that he was infected with the virus that causes AIDS, said the classroom was one place to educate youngsters about the dangers of unprotected sex.

Since announcing he was HIV positive, the 34-year-old former Los Angeles Laker has promoted increasing public AIDS awareness and safe sex.

Johnson used his appearance to echo the European approach that the best way to battle AIDS among teen-agers is by promoting condom use rather than preaching sexual abstinence.

In the Netherlands, sex education courses begin in primary school, and birth control devices are easily available to minors.

AIDS infection rates in Europe are a fraction of those in America. The Dutch rate is one-sixth that of the United States.

″I think that European society set the trend for a lot of different things, whether it’s fashion or what have you,″ Johnson said. ″We have not caught up with Europe as far as our openness is concerned.″

Johnson and a team of current and former NBA players are on an exhibition tour that began in Finland and ends this week in Belgium.

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