Local and Community News
Indiana: Former Playboy Playmate With AIDS: "Protect Yourself"
April 11, 2003
On Tuesday, former Playboy Playmate and AIDS activist Rebekka Armstrong told an audience of about 200 Purdue University students that decisions made in the throes of passion can last a lifetime.Adapted from:
"This is what the face of AIDS looks like," said Armstrong, gesturing to herself. "There was a time when you could tell a person with AIDS by the way they looked. Now you simply can't."
Armstrong's lecture was part of AIDS Awareness Week at Purdue. Playboy's Miss September 1986 was diagnosed with HIV in 1989, when she was 22. The former swimwear and lingerie model believes she contracted the disease at 16 through having unprotected sex at a fraternity party.
Armstrong believed she hadn't long to live and so led a decadent lifestyle after learning her diagnosis. She became homeless and addicted to methamphetamines. A suicide attempt left her comatose for several days, after which she was admitted to a mental hospital against her will. She regained control of her life after attending an AIDS support group for women.
Now an activist, she speaks to college and high school students about the dangers of having unprotected sex and making unwise decisions. "The factors that put me at risk for HIV? No self-esteem at all," said Armstrong, 36. "I was uncomfortable in my own skin. It takes one time to put yourself at risk and catch HIV. If you've made a decision to have sex, you absolutely have to protect yourself."
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Ind.)
04.09.03; Shawn McGrath
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.