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Athletes with AIDS

Recently there have been more and more cases of professional athletes coming forward to the public announcing their infection with human immunodeficiency disease (HIV) (Cooper et al. 1). When the first few cases were brought to the publics attention, some athletes were not very willing to play on the same court or field, though; as new information became available about HIV their opinions began to change. For example, when Earvin  Magic Johnson informed the public that he was infected with the virus, many players became very weary.

No one wanted to play on the same court as him due to fear of being infected, so Magic soon retired. However, four years later when he decided to return to basketball, almost all the players who had felt that he should not be able to play had different feelings. Within those four years, much new information about the virus had been learned, resulting in Magic being very welcomed back to the sport. Therefore, athletes who have contracted HIV should be allowed to play sports with the same regulations and rights as any other athletes. Earvin Magic Johnson was one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game.

When he discovered that he was HIV infected, he then retired. Some other star layers such as Karl Malone and Charles Barkley had very negative things to say about playing on the same court with him after his announcement. However, he did return four years later to play again. Malone, who had expressed doubts before, said he was happy to see Johnson back: Weve all learned a lot and Barkleys attitude toward Johnson was were not going to have unprotected sex with him, were just going to play basketball (Tharp 65). Later that season during a hard-fought game, his arm was cut and began to bleed.

This was the night he decided to retire for good, not because of the sour media ttention, but because of his own respect for the rest of the players. There have also been many other professional athletes who have HIV and still participate without ever infecting another athlete. Another example is Greg Loughanis, Olympic gold medalist in diving. He cut his head open when he hit it on the diving board during the Olympics, but there was no risk to the other divers, because his blood was diluted by the large amount of water in the pool (Sowadsky).

The virus will not survive outside the human body for more than a few minutes (Sowadsky). In some sports, athletes have a greater risk of interaction with abrasions than thers. As in football the chance of interaction is much greater than in basketball. NBA spokesman Chris Brienza states all of the doctors weve been in contact with have said the chances of transmitting the virus on the basketball court are infinitesimally small (Tharp 65). In fact, the risk of exposure to HIV is greater for coaches and trainers because of their interaction with the players opposed to members of the team (Pediatrics ).

Although there is fluid interaction and blood is prevalent, as long as injuries are properly handled there is no reason why HIV positive athletes should not be able to HIV testing in bloodier sports is understandable as long as all athletes are given the same HIV requirements. The most prevalent sport to have blood to blood transmission is boxing. This is the only sport where there are some requirements. HIV testing has started to become an issue in professional boxing, but it still is not done in every state (Sowardsky).

If HIV testing is going to become mandatory, then everyone should have to take it, and all boxers from other countries should have the same regulations as Americans if they want to box in the United States. In addition, athletes ho have contracted HIV should be allowed to play without stating his or her condition to the coaching staff or the players. Each HIV infected athletes case should be judged on an individual basis depending on the overall physical and mental health of the player and the nature of the sport he or she plays; the athlete, doctor, trainer, and coach should make this decision together (Cohis).

There should also be no question in the mind of the HIV-infected athlete as to if his or her confidentiality of health condition would be spoken about to any other person besides the committy who decided if he or she was able o participate. A physician should respect a HIV-infected athletes right to confidentiality; this includes not disclosing the patients status of infection to the participants or the staff of athletic programs (Pediatrics).

As long as the patient is in good enough condition and in a suitable sport, there should be no worry about the safety of Although, there is a theoretical risk of HIV transmission from an HIV-infected player to an uninfected player during athletic practice or competition, most experts agree that the risk of sports-related HIV transmission is diminutive (Cohis). There is no vidence that exists for a risk of transmission of HIV when infected persons engaging in sports have no bleeding wounds; moreover, there has been no documented instance of HIV infection acquired through participation in sports (Cohis).

Due to basic regulations of any organized sport, when and if any player is injured  where blood is involved, the player is immediately drawn from the activity until the wound is fully cleaned and covered. For example, in professional basketball whenever a player suffers a cut or abrasion, the game is quickly stopped; towels, linens and uniforms are removed, tagged nd laundered in hot water and bleach (Tharp 65). These actions ease players, coaches, and trainers of any anxiety of reusing any material that has come in touch with blood.

After the injury is cared for, he or she is then allowed to return to the activity and In conclusion, the risk of transmittion from an HIV infected player is so very remote that as long as regular precautions are practiced there will be no harm. Athletes with HIV have been interacting in sports for nearly a decade, and there has never been a single case where the virus had been transmitted. Many researchers have studied the ffects of athletes who are participating that have HIV, and the results have been unanimously determined no risk.

There has been so much new information acquired from the last decade, and this information is still becoming updated on a daily basis. As this daily knowledge is made accessible to the public, the misconceptions of risk are becoming much clearer, giving these athletes the right to participate without discrimination. Consequently, the resulting facts must lead to the enabling of all HIV athletes to perform within the same guidelines as any other athlete.

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