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Former playmate hosts lecture on the Hill

By D'Ann Dickson
On March 21, 2013

Rebekka Armstrong questioned who should take responsibility for HIV during her lecture for the Students Participating in Transcendent Knowledge series Tuesday evening in the Memorial Student Center Auditorium.
 Armstrong took responsibility for HIV.
As a part of Women's History and HIV Awareness months, Armstrong shared her story of being infected with HIV at the young age of about 16 or 17 to encourage young people, especially women, to take care of themselves, love themselves and protect themselves.
After graduating high school and becoming a Playboy Playmate in 1986, she lived a wild lifestyle, what she calls a "rollercoaster ride."
In August of 1989, she went to a doctor to be tested for everything and realized she had tested positive for HIV.
"At the time, the only thing I knew about HIV was death. I knew I was going to die. The doctor told me that I only had one or two years to live," said Armstrong in a video of her transformation she presented at the beginning of her lecture.
In 1995, after roughly straddling the fence on how she would handle her illness, a routine ranging from extreme healthiness to extreme drug and alcohol addiction, the current personal trainer began speaking to audiences and advocating HIV awareness.
Freshman mechanical engineering major Joel Bailey believes hearing her speak and watching the short documentary was a great motivation.
"I realized how much healthier of a lifestyle I have the privilege of choosing so now I'm going to work out more and be more conscious of my eating habits. I've learned to be grateful for my health and strength," he said.
Armstrong, who recently married six months ago, also shared statistics that severely affect the community on the campus of Prairie View A&M University.
Twenty-six percent of new HIV cases belong to people between the ages of 13 and 24 years old and 23 percent of new cases belong to African-American women.
Armstrong said that every hour two young people become infected with the HIV virus and every 35 minutes an African-American woman is infected.
"Thank God the percentage for women has dropped recently because of education and conversations about protection," said Armstrong.
Armand Kincade, a junior marketing major, said he really appreciated her lecture because it brought so much reality to the statistics about HIV.
"I didn't know how close we are as a university to becoming affected by it. I think we should be doing a lot more to spread the awareness," he said.
Her overall purpose of speaking to people and coming to PVAMU is to let everyone know that they are worth it.
They are special and they are important.
She wants all, especially young individuals, to recognize that the most important relationship is with self.
She said, "An incredibly amazing role model is Magic Johnson. Everyone looked at him and thought that he had a cure for HIV. I even went to my doctor and asked if I could have what he was taking since he was cured. Well in actuality, there is no medical cure for HIV but there is a cure."
According to Armstrong, prevention is the cure.
"It only takes one time to contract HIV," she said. 

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