National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2013
Individual Stories from African Americans Living with HIV
Nursing student Brandon is featured in the campaign with his best friend Jonathan. Brandon’s story is both inspiring and compelling.
- Brandon was tested for HIV and diagnosed in 2009 after discovering that his boyfriend had other partners outside of their relationship.
- He decided to use his HIV status to educate others about the disease. Since disclosing his HIV status publicly, Brandon has focused on sharing his experience with other young black gay men, to help break the silence that puts them at increased risk for HIV and other STDs.
- Today, Brandon regularly speaks to groups large and small to spread the word that HIV is real, but it can be prevented with knowledge, self-respect, and care for one’s health and the health of others.
Dena is featured in the campaign with her daughter, Kandace. Dena has an inspiring and compelling personal story:
Listen to Dena’s story
- She was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, when she was a student at the University of Houston. At that time, HIV was rarely discussed, either publicly or with friends and family.
- It took Dena several years to come to terms with her HIV status. Becoming pregnant proved to be the tipping point – knowing that she would be responsible for another life, she starting seeing a doctor for HIV care, and successfully avoided transmitting HIV to her baby.
- From that moment, Dena began to learn – and then to speak out – about living with HIV. She became an advocate for black women and all those living with the disease. Dena decided to make fighting HIV her job as well as her passion, and today is an independent HIV educator and advocate. Recently marrying a man who is also living with HIV, she is now mother to four stepchildren in addition to Kandace.
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Jamar is featured in the campaign with his mother, Danielle. His journey to this point is inspiring and compelling:
Listen to Jamar’s story
- Jamar was infected with HIV after running away from home, during a period of heavy drug use. He didn’t learn that he was HIV-positive until he fell seriously ill with related infections.
- His HIV diagnosis proved to be a turning point in his life. His mother was the first person that he called, and her love and support were crucial to his recovery. From that point forward, he committed himself to staying healthy and pursuing his dream of becoming a professional singer and musician.
- That dream came true when he auditioned for the national singing competition “The Voice,” moving on to become a semi-finalist. Today, he is making music while using his newfound fame to raise awareness of HIV and fight stigma across the country.
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