Volunteers, advocates educating about HIV and AIDS in Uptown

by: Torie Wells Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Volunteers and advocates stood Friday in Uptown, working to educate people about HIV and AIDS. It was an effort for World AIDS Day.

DeVondia Roseborough has talked to her daughters about HIV prevention and detection. She has already whispered cautionary words in her granddaughter's ear.

For Roseborough, HIV and AIDS education is personal.

"Not only am I affected by it, but I'm infected by it," Roseborough said.

She was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 after fevers, pneumonia and fainting spells. Her daughters were just 9 and 11 years old. In 2004 she was forced into the hospital with AIDS.

"I had unprotected sex with someone that wasn't my husband, someone that I didn't love, someone that didn't love me. Because of my low self-esteem, I put myself at risk," Roseborough said.

Roseborough said she hopes her honesty protects others. In Mecklenburg County the statistics are alarming.

"Mecklenburg County has the highest number of HIV cases in North Carolina," said the Rev. Debbie Warren, from the Region AIDS Interfaith Network, and a member of the Mecklenburg County HIV/AIDS Council.

The County's HIV/AIDS Council passed out information in Uptown Friday. The group said that one person is infected in the county almost every day. The group says that of those people 20-25 percent don't even know they are infected.

The Council blames a lack of awareness, lack of access to good healthcare and a sense of complacency.

"It's not as much in peoples face as it used to be," said Terry Ellington, of Carolinas CARE Partnership, another member of the Council.

Warren says the group has been speaking with North Carolina lawmakers about funding and expanding Medicaid for those who can't afford treatment. It will continue that this coming year.

Right now Roseborough's medication is working and she said she is blessed to be able to share her story.

"That gives me the opportunity to empower someone and that's what I was left here to do," Roseborough said.

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