Magic Johnson Tells How HIV Brought His Family Closer

10/10/2012 at 08:00 PM EDT

Magic Johnson Tells How HIV Brought His Family Closer
Magic Johnson
Amy Sussman/Invision/AP
When Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive in 1991, many thought his career – even his life – would be over. But the former basketball superstar and current sports commentator is going strong.

Johnson, who is also an HIV prevention and awareness activist, says he draws strength from his wife Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly and his three children, Andre, Earvin and Elisa.

"They get on me making sure I'm doing everything the right way," he told PEOPLE Wednesday at a press event for OraQuick, the first at-home HIV test kit. Johnson, 53, says his family constantly asks, " 'Are you taking your meds, are you working out, are you eating healthy?' "

His family "is in the same fight, the same battle in terms of HIV," he says, "I think it's brought my whole family closer together."



In addition to that support system, Johnson credits regular workouts, a positive attitude and his trio of drugs for keeping him healthy.

"Many people are surprised to find that for 21 years the cocktail I've been taking [is] the same three drugs, once a day," he says, "the thing that's made Magic magical is that I've taken my meds!"

Still, his family's support is critical. "Nobody can beat this disease by himself," he adds. "You need a support system that you can open up to."

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