December 2, 2022

Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis returns to Indy


Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis returns to Indy

Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis returned to Indianapolis Thursday night to speak on World AIDS Day. It's part of Damien Center’s Educational Series presented by Delta Faucet Company.   In 1994, he became one of the first openly gay athletes, publicly coming out about both his sexuality and HIV infection.  WFYI's Taylor Bennett spoke with Louganis about his work as a long-time advocate for HIV awareness.

WFYI's Taylor Bennett:   What do you think the message is today for Worlds AIDS day compared to say maybe 10 to 15 years ago? Is it different? Is it the same? What is the message?

Greg Louganis: Yeah, I mean, as it really has evolved, I mean, I was diagnosed HIV positive six months prior to the Olympics in 88'. So from that point, I mean, we thought of it as a death sentence. Now, a lot of the services that the Damien Center provides, has evolved. And really, they've gotten to a point where they've outgrown the facility that they're at, so they're looking started the Damien Center capital campaign. And so to be able to provide more services to more people. They also have a food bank. People are living longer with AIDS, it's becoming more of a manageable chronic disease. So then with that comes new issues, you know, of HIV and aging. And so, you know, needing a place to live and, and resources. There's also adherence to your medical regimen. And also learning that if you're undetectable, you're untransmittable so maintaining undetectable levels during your HIV AIDS journey, you know, so it's it's much more hopeful, but it also brings up different issues.

Bennett:  You do have an incredible story to tell a very inspiring story. Do you think that, you know, when it comes to awareness, and the stigma and everything today that there, like you mentioned, is there still a lot of work to be done?

Louganis: There's still a lot of work to be done. You know, it's just awareness. I mean, especially like World AIDS Day, you know, get tested, early detection is really important, you know, to protect yourself and anybody that you're with, as well as your own, you know, personal health, you know, it's not, it's not what we thought of in, in 88. Basically, if you were diagnosed HIV positive, then you have two years, you know, that was kind of the prognosis. And now with all of the medications that are available, and managing people are living regular, normal lives. And so and it's just, you know, managing the whole process of your journey with living with HIV.

Bennett: We have come a long way with managing, but do you think we'll ever see an end to HIV- AIDS?

Louganis: Dr. Krem, she said, as soon as we find a cure for AIDS, we're going to find a cure for cancer and, you know, they kind of go hand in hand a lot, a lot of times, you know, a lot of those illnesses. It's all kind of interconnected. In, health and wellness.

Bennett: Well, thank you so much for your time and all your great work.

Louganis: Thank you. 

Bennett:  Good luck.

Louganis: Thank you so much.

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(Louganis is auctioning off some of his medals through December 4th with a portion of the proceeds going to the Damien Center.)

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