Rebekka Armstrong is a Playboy Playmate™, whose announcement in 1994 that she was HIV-positive made international headlines. Along with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, she became one of the best-known public faces of heterosexual HIV transmission.
As a beautiful 18 year old, Rebekka was featured as Playboy's Miss September 1986. During the next four years, she led an exciting life traveling, modeling, and representing the organization in its many events. But she began to fatigue and bruise easily, and at the age of 22 was diagnosed with HIV.
Despite the stereotypical lives of Playmates, Rebekka contracted the virus from an act of unprotected sex when she was in high school. In 1994, after years of hiding the physical effects of the virus and the destructive emotional result of keeping her diagnosis secret, Rebekka made the decision to "go public" with her disease.
Refusing to live in the shadow of HIV/AIDS, Rebekka has dedicated herself over the past 18 years to preventing others from becoming infected. Her personal exposure is described as "one-of-a-kind", "honest", "extraordinary", "inspiring" and "powerful".
“Thank you so much for visiting WSU! Your story was very inspiring and you are the perfect blend of open, honest and funny. Way to be awesome!”
Washingston State University
“Your presentation was absolutely fabulous! Our sorority attended as a group and every member expressed their sincere admiration. You are an inspiration to me and I will continue to get HIV tested as much as I need to. Unfortunately, I have had unprotected sex, but after hearing your story, I will not in the future… you were the best speaker I have ever heard!”
University of Miami
"I attended your 'lecture' today in the Florida Keys. I actually skipped class to go! (not that it's a good thing or anything, but I really wanted to go.) Your story was so inspiring to me! I've been talking with someone for about a year now and was seriously considering having sex with him for the first time (mine, not his) the next time I see him. We live about 5 hours away from each other. He's slept with so many people though, and thanks to your story, I think I'm going to wait and have a serious conversation with him about it. I don't want to get HIV/AIDS or any other STD. Thank you so much for opening my eyes. You're truly an inspiration to all women."
Marathon High School
“I attended your lecture at USC Upstate in January with my daughter who was writing an article on you for the school paper… I was very impressed with your speaking ability and your ability to get through to the students. I really felt a difference in their attitudes and receptiveness as the night went on. Keep up the good work. I know you are making a big difference in people’s lives.”
University of Southern Florida
“Rebekka’s event was one of a kind. It touched so many students. I am grateful that she was able to share her story with Towson Students. Her event stood out from many others because it was the truth, it wasn’t over the top, or too tame. It was presented in a way that you felt like you had known her for years, and understood what she went through. It was a pleasure to work with her.”
CAB Programming Chair
“Bringing Rebekka Armstrong to our campus has been a four year effort and a presentation that was well-worth pursuing! Rebekka tells her extraordinary story in a manner in which each of our students really connected with her at multiple points in the program. She is truly a dynamic speaker who is able to give incredible insight to our understanding and behaviors surrounding all of the issues of HIV and the people it effects. Our students are still thanking us for bringing Rebekka and her story to campus. Kudos, too, to the Samara Lectures staff who hung in there and worked with us to bring this fantastic presentation to campus!”
Assistant Director Student Activities
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
“It was a blunt, provocative, entertaining program about a real-life important matter. It was just what our University needed to spark conversations, awareness and caring.”
Lectures and Performing Arts
ASUI Vandal Entertainment
University of Idaho
“I was sad to see her leave! I felt so special to have met her and was so touched by her story. I would work with her again any day.”
Student and Peer Health Educator
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
“Rebekka was very easy to work with and seemed to have genuine interest in being at UND. Her lecture was very powerful yet entertaining at the same time. Many people asked for her to come back next year! I believe the people who attended have a much better understanding of HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves against the disease.”
Lectures and Performing Arts Programmer, UPC
University of North Dakota
“Thank you for coming to our campus and sharing your message with our students. I found your talk to be very frank and honest. I think you speak right to the hearts of students. I especially liked the two video clips… It takes incredible courage and strength to share such a private side of your life for the good of others. You, no doubt, have saved many lives and helped young people make better choices for themselves.”
John R. Shafe
Director of the Counseling and Health Center
Assistant Professor of Fine Arts
Franklin College of Indiana