Magic Johnson speaks in Tampa about living with HIV

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 5:54 PM EDT

Basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson was in Tampa Tuesday to talk to health care providers about living with HIV.

Johnson spoke at the University Area Community Development Corporation, where he helped to launch Clear Health Alliance, a Medicaid plan with a designated specialty for HIV/AIDS.

Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. He said he'll never forget the day 22 years ago when he found out he was infected.

"When I went to Dr. Melman's office, he began to tell me that I had HIV, and so I was just stunned," he said. "No way you can think you're just going to come into his office and he's going to tell you that. "

Now scientists say a new study offers hope for Johnson and others like him, who have contracted the life-threatening virus.

The new study looked at 16 monkeys infected with a virus similar to HIV. An Oregon researcher gave those infected monkeys an experimental vaccine. Three years later, nine of those monkeys show no signs of having had the virus.

Some scientists say those nine monkeys were cured, and that's big news.

"We've never been able to look, and have something that we went in and can't find the virus anywhere in the body, so that's groundbreaking," said Dr. Douglas Holt, the CEO of University Area CDC. "The question is how did that happen and why."

In the next couple of years, scientists plan to test the vaccine on humans.

Johnson said he isn't giving the possibility of a cure much thought. He said his goal is to reach out to others with the disease and urge testing in minority communities.

"I don't think about it until it comes and is real, because I don't want to give anybody false hope," he said.

Johnson said his cure for living with HIV includes taking his medication, exercising and staying positive.

Florida ranks third in the nation for the number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The university area has the highest HIV/sexually transmitted disease rate in Hillsborough County, as well as one of the highest in the state.