Society / The Seen

Olympic Gold Medalist Earns Two Standing Ovations in Houston for his HIV Fight

The Mayor Sets an Ambitious Disease Goal for the City

BY // 12.05.17
photography Morris Malakoff, The CKP Group

Clearly, Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis is doing something right. Diagnosed as HIV positive in 1988 only months before winning his second round of double gold medals for diving, the LGBT activist and author shared with the World AIDS Day luncheon gathering that his condition is “undetectable.”

His compelling story brought home the importance of organizations like AIDS Foundation Houston and Avenue 360, which have formed a strategic alliance in the HIV/AIDS battle. The luncheon at the Hilton Post Oak was cohosted by both organizations with Caroline Starry and Jeff Gremillion chairing.

Due to the early “shame of diagnosis,” Louganis told the ballroom of 550 guests, “It took me years to say that I am a gay man living with HIV.” He applauded the two organizations for striving toward the common goal of building an HIV-free world. His presence and his words earned him two standing ovations, one at the start and one at the end of his remarks.

Mayor Sylvester Turner added to the chorus of soldiers in the fight against AIDS, “I think we can get to a zero level. This is a can-do city. We can do it.”

One of the strongest arms in that battle is the Houston Health Department Bureau of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention. The organization was presented the Shelby Hodge Vision Award for its innovative HIV prevention programs, in particular molecular HIV surveillance, which emcee Ernie Manouse addressed in a Q&A with bureau chief Marlene McNeese. The award was presented by Dr. Steve Frangos of luncheon sponsor Chevron.

The fundraising effort was preceded by the Sing for Hope reception, held the night before at Life HTX, hosted by Henry Richardson and Monsour Taghdisi. The evening featured performances by event founder Camille Zamora as well as Liam Bonner and Alicia Gianni.

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The two fundraisers brought in $160,000 to help provide housing, food, testing and more for the HIV population.

Who: AIDS Foundation board president Jessica Rossman and Gordon Bethune, Johnny Chaillot, Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gillard, former Mayor Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Travis Torrence, Joni Baird, Sarah McMullen, David Mincberg, Cindy Clifford, Monica Pope, Star Massing and Sarah Walters-Aramburo.

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