Swimming and diving
4 new HIV infections happened during the 47.51 seconds it took Michael Phelps to set the 100 metre Freestyle World Record at the Beijing Olympics.
Swimming is good for you, as is moderate exercise of any kind, as it conditions and enhances the immune system. People living with HIV don't need to take any additional precautions in swimming pools, hot tubs or saltwater. The chemicals used in swimming pools and hot tubs would instantly kill any HIV and if the public health authorities feel it's safe for the general public to swim in the water, then it's also safe for people living with HIV.
At the Gay Games IV in New York City in 1994, of the 11,000 participating athletes, 1,200 were swimmers many of them HIV positive.
If you are HIV positive, exercise helps increase muscle mass and counteracts what can be devastating effects of wasting (people with HIV tend to lose lean body mass rather than fat). However, it’s probably best to begin exercising while you are without symptoms and healthy as symptomatic individuals should probably avoid overtraining and exhaustive exercise. However, with advances in HIV treatment and care, there is opportunity to begin treatment earlier and not become symptomatic in the first place. Be mindful that HIV medications can have side effects such as fatigue, headaches, and numbness in the hands and feet, so remember to talk to your doctor for further support with treatment side effects whether or not they prevent you from exercising and before beginning any new type of exercise programme.
HIV, swimming pools and hot tubs
HIV is actually fragile outside of the body, and does not survive in water whether treated with chemicals or not. Added to this the dilutional effect of large volumes of water would also make risk vanishingly low. HIV cannot be transmitted through normal bodily contact or by sharing changing rooms, shower and toilet facilities. So you can relax and enjoy your sport.
In fact, HIV is only transmitted in 4 ways....unprotected sex (that’s without a condom), sharing needles, mother to childtransmission and through contaminated blood and blood products. No other way. If you want to find out more see Sport, HIV and AIDS – the facts.
The American Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis won a silver medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 at the age of 16. His career as the world’s greatest diver didn’t stop there, in Los Angeles in 1984 he won two Olympic gold medals for the platform and springboard diving events and four years later in Seoul he became the first to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics. Louganis has also been World Champion six times and achieved 47 National Championship titles.
It was during a dive at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 that he struck his head on the diving board which caused a large cut to his head. Due to the bloody nature of his injury, this accident was later to raise major concerns for his diving competitors, when in 1995, in his autobiographical book ‘Breaking the Surface’ Louganis disclosed that he was HIV positive, having been diagnosed a few months before the Seoul Games.
People the world over began to ask why Louganis hadn’t disclosed his status at the time of his accident but while the United States Olympic Committee expressed concern about the possibility of exposure it was medical AIDS expert Antony Fauci that eventually assured the Olympic Committee Louganis hadn’t put anyone at risk by not disclosing his HIV diagnosis.
Louganis now travels the world with other athletes discussing what it is like to live with long-term chronic conditions.
"It's just telling my story really. I want to be remembered as a strong and graceful diver, but as a person, I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference."
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