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“Breaking the Surface” by Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic champion and one of the greatest athletes in the history of diving, will be on campus Thursday, September 17, 13:30-15:00 to share with ACG students his personal story and his insights on living with HIV / AIDS. The event, hosted by the American College of Greece, is organized by “Κέντρο Ζωής” (Life Center), an NGO with the mission to inform on and fight for equal rights for HIV positive individuals. The DEREE LGBT Awareness club has helped organize the event to be held at PIERCE Theatre.

The world-class diver, through a personal insightful presentation, will reflect on his struggle against social stigma and discrimination at a time when most people had not even heard about the HIV virus and AIDS. His objective is to make the audience aware of the issues and of the importance of determining their stance vis-à-vis those who live with the HIV virus or/and AIDS in Greece.

Starting in 1991, Centre for Life –the NGO that has received awards from the Greek state for its work- has been offering for free services that cover a broad spectrum of the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS in Greece, along with their partners and families.

Gregory (Greg) Louganis…

… was born on January 29, 1960 and is one of the most famous Olympians in his sport, diving. At the Seoul Olympics in 1988 he won the gold medal, receiving top marks from all the judges, despite the serious head injury that he received during his second effort. Six months before the Games in Seoul he had found out he was HIV-positive. However, he went ahead with his athletic schedule and competed in the Olympic Games, taking AZT every 4 hours. The accident, during the Games, was the reason his illness became public knowledge.

He chose to live a life free of stereotypical perceptions and social taboos, fighting for his right to homosexuality and to being HIV-positive. In his book “Breaking the Surface, the history of Gregory Louganis”, on the New York Times best-seller list for five continuous weeks, he gives an experiential account of life as an HIV-positive person and how hard that can be. In 1995 he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and later was interviewed by Barbara Walters, openly revealing the HIV-positive issue for the first time. This was followed by TV shows and movies based on his story.

His health issue never overshadowed Greg Louganis’ love of sport. On the contrary it was a vessel that helped publicize the life of HIV-positive patients and to encourage athletes with similar health issues. He was the mentor of the USA Diving Team at the London Olympics in 2012.