More than half of the 35 million people living with HIV do not know their status for fear of stigmatization and job discrimination. The UN ILO seeks to make that number Zero.



Four time Olympic Gold Medalist in the sport of diving and openly gay athlete living with HIV, Greg Louganis, on set of the UN ILO World Aids Day PSA. Photo essay by SPURGEON JAMES/

“Thanks to early treatment,” states Olympian and multi-talent Greg Louganis, “HIV has not affected my zest for life and my passion for sports.” Louganis is a five-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist diver who, through his Olympic fame and movie-star good looks, sparked a global fascination with diving. He has also been living with HIV for the past 26 years. His inspiring proclamation is made on the set of a global PSA for the United Nations International Labor Organization (UN ILO).

These public service announcements for World AIDS Day 2014 shed light on the various way people around the world face stigma and job discrimination when they test positive for HIV. Nzinga Blake and Patricia Foulkrod served as Co-Directors while Blake also produced the series which was masterminded by Bonnie Abaunza. The PSA’s feature actor performances of real stories from men and women in Jordan, India and Zimbabwe.

Portrayed by actresses Kavi Ladnier and Ratidzo Mambo and actor Junes Zhadi, these true stories reveal the plight of a mother named Seema, a woman named Gloria who is forced to reveal her status at work and a young man named Khalid who might lose his home. “As a woman, an African woman living in a first world country, it’s such a reminder of the importance of what we do and the fragility that we’re given to be here and be able to give a voice to the voiceless,” Ratidzo Mambo poignantly shares why she is honored and compelled to tell Gloria’s story.

“I’ve never had to face this type of discrimination,” reveals Kavi Ladnier, “but because I do know that it exists and because I haven’t experienced it, I feel I have even more of a responsibility to bring these stories to light.”

More than half of the 35 million people living with HIV do not know their status. They hesitate to discover it for fear of retaliation, stigmatization and discrimination at work. Yet, getting tested early means gaining access to treatment that will help one continue to lead a healthy and productive life. The International Labour Organization (ILO) strives to end HIV-related discrimination at work and promotes voluntary testing and counseling through the workplace.

Greg Louganis shares a common goal with the UN ILO of, “Zero Discrimination. Zero New Infections. Zero AIDS-related Deaths.” The world-famous diver and best-selling author has been living his life knowing his status and getting the treatment he needs to maintain a wondrous life. Aside from recently getting married, Louganis has become a dog agility expert, a judge for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Tour, a mentor to the US Olympic diving team, a motivational speaker and he is priming to launch a jewelry line in 2015.

Fortunate to learn his status early and get treated, Louganis realizes how many people around the world aren’t able to have similar stories due to the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. By acknowledging these stories and giving them global attention through the PSA video series, the UN ILO hopes to eradicate the fear of joblessness and, at times, deportation faced by those living with HIV. The World AIDS Day campaign launches globally for the year 2014 on December 1. – JOY DONNELL