INTERVIEW: Greg Louganis on HIV/AIDS Stigma and Reliving Early Struggles

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

It was a very interesting time to chat with Olympic superstar Greg Louganis: I spoke with him shortly after the Charlie Sheen interview that caused our collective culture to have a broader discussion about HIV, about stigma, and about a lack of practical knowledge on the virus. Louganis, who has become a visible and vocal advocate for HIV/AIDS education, will be in Philadelphia on December 3 for Philadelphia FIGHT’s annual gala, where he will present a talk on a variety of health-related matters. The diving star opened up about society’s view on HIV and his own perceptions of gay youth living in the 21st Century.

You’ll be in town for the Philadelphia FIGHT gala. What are some of the things that you’ll be speaking about? I’ll share a bit of my history and part of my story, and how far we’ve come with HIV treatment and care, as well as stigma. Fighting stigma is a huge issue, and the only way is through education, education, education. We have to educate those that we love. It’s interesting: A good example of that is that many people assume my husband is HIV positive, but he’s not. We get tested regularly and we take care of each other.

Last week was certainly been an interesting one for public awareness on HIV after the Charlie Sheen interview. I’m curious to hear from you about how that interview went and what impact it might have, if any. It shows that stigma is still there, but it is also a different day and age then when I was diagnosed back in 88. It’s no longer a death sentence. You know, it is devastating. We’re so uptight about talking about sex in this country when it is a natural thing. When I go and talk to 14, 15, 16 year olds, it’s a free-for-all. I usually do a Q&A and they ask questions about sex, drugs, depression, all of these things that are part of our society. We need to have open and honest conversations about things that are around us. Read more »