[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Former “Project Runway” contestant Jack Mackenroth visited Clarion University on Wednesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. to give a talk titled, “Living Positive: My Life With HIV.”
Mackenroth, 44, was the first openly HIV-positive contestant on “Project Runway” when he competed in the show’s fourth season.
The University Activities Board Lecture Committee sponsored the event, which also included a brief question-and-answer session. UAB Lecture Chair Head Abbey Streich and Co-Chair Head Samantha Willing spearheaded the event.
“We work with different agencies every year, and an agency kind of just gave us a couple options in our price range. We talked it over and he [Mackenroth] seemed to be the most appealing, most interesting to students,” Streich said.
UAB Lecture’s goal was to encourage and educate students with Mackenroth’s talk.
“I am happy in my position as long as one person leaves here inspired, so as long as students came and they left inspired and educated and they learned something or tried something new or if they were scared to come here because of the topic and they did, I’m happy with that,” Streich said.
Mackenroth’s talk was one of teaching and inspiring students to follow their goals despite setbacks, health-related or otherwise.
Mackenroth grew up in Seattle, Wash. and attended the University of California, Berkeley. After two years as a pre-med major, Mackenroth changed his focus and became an art major. It was also at this time that he came out to his mother.
During his junior year at Berkeley, Mackenroth found out that he was HIV-positive.
“In 1990, I developed pneumonia, and I went to the doctor, so I actually had an HIV test at that time, and my results came back negative because there’s a window period when you’re developing the antibodies,” Mackenroth said.
Upon graduating from Berkeley, Mackenroth moved to New York City to attend Parsons The New School for Design. He fell ill again, and when he finally went to the doctor, Mackenroth took another HIV test.
“Back then, what an HIV test entailed was you do a blood test and then you would wait like, two to three weeks for your results, so it was torturous,” he said.
Mackenroth’s results came back positive for HIV. The following years involved a myriad of medications, often without knowing whether they would work. Mackenroth compared this time with today’s HIV tests, treatment and prevention. Current HIV tests consist of a mouth swab, with results coming back within 20 minutes. Medication has also been reduced to taking several pills a day.
“I think one of the things that really contributed to that [Mackenroth’s survival] is having a game plan before you go into an experience that there may be a risk involved. It’s about empowerment and feeling self-confident,” Mackenroth said.
For more information on the UAB Lecture Committee, contact Streich at A.L.Streich@eagle.clarion.edu. UAB Lecture meetings are Mondays at 8:30 p.m. in the upper Gemmell rotunda.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]