Diving champion and HIV/AIDS advocate Greg Louganis will be the first speaker in the Ryan White and William L. Yarber Lecture Series hosted by the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.
Louganis, a four-time Olympic champion, will present “Overcoming Adversity From an HIV-Positive Legend” at 7 p.m. March 1 at the Whittenberger Auditorium on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The lecture is part of the school’s Public Health Lecture Series and is the inaugural Ryan White and William L. Yarber Lecture, created last year to honor Ryan White, the rural Indiana youth who contracted HIV at age 13 from tainted blood products used to treat his hemophilia in the 1980s.
“Greg Louganis is not only a world-class athlete but an outstanding advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS,” said William Yarber, senior director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention. “As an HIV-positive, openly gay man, he is a strong activist for people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and for the LGBT community as a whole. We are so pleased to have him discuss his experiences with coming to terms with his HIV infection, himself and his sexuality, and his destiny.”
During his lecture, Louganis will also be awarded the Ryan White Distinguished Leadership Award, which honors those who have made significant, national and/or international achievements in HIV/AIDS prevention. Past award recipients include Joep Lange, a clinical researcher in HIV therapy and president of the International AIDS Society from 2002 to 2004, and former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher.
The community can also watch a screening of “Back on Board,” a documentary that follows Louganis over the course of three years as he struggles with financial security and reunites with the sport he once dominated but was not welcomed in. The screening will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 29 at the IU Cinema. Louganis will be present at the event, which is free and open to the public.
Louganis is widely considered the greatest diver in history. He is the only man to sweep both the 3-meter and 10-meter diving events in consecutive Olympic games. Throughout this career he earned five Olympic medals, five world championship titles and 47 national titles.
He also made headlines as one of the first openly gay athletes, announcing in 1994 that he was gay and HIV positive. Louganis chronicled his life experiences in his autobiography “Breaking the Surface,” which lead him to become an outspoken HIV awareness advocate. He has worked with the Human Rights Campaign to defend civil liberties for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Louganis is currently a mentor for the U.S. Olympic diving team, a dog agility expert and a motivational speaker.