LOS ANGELES - Cynthia Davis, an assistant professor in the Medical Sciences Institute at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, received a prized award from basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson on World AIDS Day. Recognized for her tireless AIDS advocacy over nearly three decades, Mrs. Davis received the ‘World AIDS Day Magic Award’ during a news conference held at an AIDS hospice in the West Adams District of Los Angeles.
Mr. Johnson, for whom the accolade was named, received the inaugural award a year ago from the AIDS Health Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization. The Los Angeles-based group used the honor on World AIDS Day to recognize Mrs. Davis, who has remained on the frontlines of HIV testing in Los Angeles and elsewhere for decades.
“I consider it an honor, and a highlight of my almost 30 years of working in the HIV/AIDS arena,” she said of the award. “Today, on World Aids Day, we should all make a pledge to continue to fight for the rights of the underserved, the poor, the disenfranchised, and ensure that all HIV-affected individuals get access to life-saving drugs and that all individuals at risk of infection get access to readily available HIV testing and treatment.”
Mr. Johnson recalled that Mrs. Davis wrote the first check to a foundation he launched in the early 1990s, raising funds for community groups that focus on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. He credited Mrs. Davis with overcoming barriers to bring mobile HIV testing to the masses. In Los Angeles County, she operated the first mobile testing unit.
“This woman is a queen when it comes to our community, bringing people together and then helping the community become better,” Mr. Johnson said. “When you talk about being special, God really blessed you because you area a special woman, doing special things at a special time.”
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation who co-presented the award noted that Mrs. Davis has been a board member of the organization for 23 years. “Nobody works longer hours,” he said of Mrs. Davis. I’m gratified anytime she can get this kind of recognition because she’s the definition of unsung hero.”