HIV+ Playboy Playmate, Bodybuilder, and Fitness Expert
At the age of 18, Rebekka became a Playboy Playmate after being chosen to be Miss September 1986, a culmination of her childhood dream. For the next four years, she led an exciting life as a Playmate, traveling, modeling, and attending star-studded parties. However, she was often tired and bruised easily. At the age of 22, she was diagnosed with HIV.
EXPOSED: An HIV+ Playboy Playmate Tells Her Story
The virus had been contracted years earlier, from an episode of unprotected sex when she was in high school. After years of hiding the physical effects of the virus and the destructive emotional results of keeping the secret, Rebekka made the decision to go public with her disease. In a 1994 cover story for The Advocate, Rebekka announced that she was HIV positive. She was no longer willing to live in the shadow of AIDS. Instead, she dedicated herself to preventing others from becoming infected through unsafe sex or drug use. Rebekka has traveled the world delivering her educational and inspiring message of prevention, hope, and the reality of AIDS.
She has become an outspoken activist to increase AIDS awareness and fight for progress in discovering improved medications and treatment. She has participated in POZ Expos in cities across the nation and is an active spokesperson for Cable Positive. Rebekka has been profiled by the Discovery Health Channel as well as E! True Hollywood Stories.
Health, Strength, and Fitness
In her efforts to maintain her health, Rebekka began research into healthy living and fitness, and became an award-winning bodybuilder and fitness model. She continues to compete and place in bodybuilding competitions around the country. She has starred in several weight-training videos and is available to share her motivational and strength-building secrets as supplement to her message about sexual safety and health.
Rebekka remains a working Playboy Playmate representing the organization in many events and is currently writing two books: an autobiography and a cookbook with many of her wonderful recipes along with health and workout tips.
“What an amazing experience to sit and listen to our 100 Women speaker Rebekka Armstrong this past Thursday. The former Playboy cover model told the intimate and graphic details of her struggle since contracting AIDS at the age of 18. She was truly inspirational — recovering from near-death to good health and dedicating her life to being a spokesperson for people living with HIV/AIDS.”
Chair, 100 Women
Desert AIDS Project
“The students had a GREAT time with Rebekka at S.P.I.T. Knowledge! She was so down to earth and real- which is what the lecture is designed to be about so that the audience gets the real perspective on situations. She was very personable and ‘in the mix’ with the students. We loved that she was open and true about what she went through.”
Program Coordinator II
Special Programs and Cultural Series
Prairie View A&M University
“Rebekka Armstrong creates a safe environment for students to ask questions about HIV and AIDS – questions they may not have every felt comfortable enough to ask before.
Rebekka breaks through the barriers of stereotypes and assumptions concerning HIV and AIDS. She does not hold back when describing her experiences, but instead, gives the audience a chance to learn the truth, her reality, of dealing with this terribly disease each day. She does not handle sensitive issues with kid gloves; instead she confronts them head on! Her story is inspirational to all, and her message goes beyond the disease and focuses on decision making and being true to yourself!”
Kara L. Westfall
Student Development Coordinator
“Rebekka was an absolute joy to work with. Her spirited personality gives her the ability to establish a deep connection with her audience, allowing for her message to be effective yet entertaining. She was very direct with her approach and didn’t sugarcoat anything. She really made an impact upon those in attendance and definitely left her mark here at Rider University.”
Student Intern, Center for Multicultural Affairs
“Rebekka Armstrong’s story was powerful and inspiring. Her enthusiasm for life and blunt approach to discussing her struggle with HIV/AIDS was a dynamic, entertaining, and touching way to connect with the students and make them appreciate the need to protect themselves. It was a pleasure to work with such a fun and genuine person and it was an event that I am proud to be a part of!”
Lectures Programmer, Student Entertainment Board
Washington State University
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
University of Wisconsin-Parkside student and Peer Health Educator
“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 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
“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
“I attended your lecture today in the Florida Keys. I actually skipped class 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