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Swimmer Louganis reveals he has AIDS

NEW YORK, Feb. 22 -- Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic diving champion, has announced in a broadcast interview that he is infected with the virus that causes AIDS. 'According to the (Center for Disease Control) standards for AIDS versus HIV, I do have AIDS,' Louganis told ABC's Barbara Walters in an interview scheduled to be shown Friday night on the network show '20/20.' Louganis added during the interview that he learned in early 1988, the year of his final Olympic competition, that he had been infected with HIV, a precursor to full-blown AIDS. He said only his coach, Ron O'Brien, and a small circle of friends knew his secret. He said immediately began taking the drug AZT, which slows the virus. Louganis, 35, is the only diver in history to sweep both the springboard and platform gold medals in consecutive Olympics. He won gold medals at Los Angeles in 1984 and at Seoul in 1988. It was in Seoul that Louganis came back to win gold after striking his head on the board midway through the 3-meter competition. In his forthcoming biography titled 'Breaking the Surface,' Louganis wrote that he was concerned about possibly infecting other divers who entered the pool. However, he said nothing at the time. He returned to competition after having the head wound stiched up to nail his final dives and repeat as Olympic champion. But the diver was so concerned by the possible repercussions of announcing that he was HIV positive, he did not tell the doctor, who stitched him up without wearing protective gloves.

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'I was so stunned,' Louganis said in the interview. 'I mean, what was going on in my mind at the time was, what's my responsibility, do I say something, it's, you know, this has been such an incredibly guarded secret. You could throw the entire competition into a state of alarm. Even more so than just having hit my head on a board. I was paralyzed with fear.' HIV is transmitted by exchange of body fluids, such as blood or semen. Most of its victims in the United States have been homosexuals and intravenous drug abusers. Louganis went public at last year's Gay Games in New York with the news that he is homosexual. Louganis becomes the latest addition to a list of famous athletes who have contracted HIV, including former NBA Most Valuable Player Magic Johnson, tennis legend Arthur Ashe, figure skater John Curry and former hockey player Bill Goldsworthy. Johnson and Goldsworthy still are alive, but Ashe died in 1993 and Curry died last year. Louganis also is a five-time world diving champion, winning the platform title in 1978 and sweeping both springboard and platform crowns in 1982 and 1986. He also was the 1984 winner of the Sullivan Award, given annually to the top amateur athlete in the United States.

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