World AIDS Day: Olympian Greg Louganis honored for his activism in SF ceremony

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, December 2, 2023
World AIDS Day: Olympian Greg Louganis honored for his activism
Olympian Greg Louganis was honored for his activism at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park on World AIDS Day.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Friday is the 35th anniversary of World AIDS Day, a reminder of the impact that HIV and AIDS have had on individuals and communities.

In San Francisco, there was a special ceremony at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park, where Olympic gold medalist and LGBTQ activist, Greg Louganis was honored.

Dance Azeteca began the commemoration of World AIDS Day, inside the the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park, where the names of more than 3,000 people lost to AIDS are forever etched in the landscape.

MORE: Marty's Place gives hope to those living with HIV

"I think it's very important we realize the AIDS crisis is not over, people are still dying. I lost a friend a month and a half ago," said John Cunningham, CEO of National AIDS Memorial.

Cunningham says AIDS has taken the lives of an estimated 36 million people worldwide. While there is still no cure or vaccine, people are living longer thanks to new treatments.

"I was diagnosed HIV positive in 1988, six months prior to the Olympic Games," said Greg Louganis.

Olympic Gold Medalist diver Greg Louganis says he wasn't given long to live after his diagnosis.

"We've come a long way, I didn't think I'd see 30, I was 28 when I got diagnosed, at the time you had two years, told to get my affairs in order," Louganis said.

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Early days of AIDS crisis in San Francisco in 1982

On this World AIDS Day, we take a look back at the growing AIDS crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Louganis is now 63 and feeling good. He's sharing his journey as a longtime HIV survivor. On the 35th anniversary of World AIDS Day, Louganis is being honored with the National Leadership Recognition Award for his activism, breaking stigmas and promoting education.

"It's about taking care of yourself, being aware to educate yourself how do you get HIV, how you don't get HIV, it's all important," he said.

But activists say there is still a long way to go, 16 states in the U.S., have criminalized HIV.

Lashanda Salinas was forced to register as a sex offender for 17 years after an ex-boyfriend reported her to the police for having HIV after claiming she kept it a secret. Lashanda helped get the law amended this year.

"After 17 years, I came off the sex offender register," Salinas said.

Lashanda was honored with the Hope and Inspiration Award. Many believe a future without HIV/AIDS will come but for now, we honor the friends and family we've lost.

"I think it's important to take time and take a moment to remember those who've gone before us and ask ourselves, what are we doing to make a difference," Cunningham said.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live