Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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On the outside, it hardly looks like there is a thing wrong with Devondia Roseborough. But what she carries in her body could kill her.
"I was diagnosed with AIDS December 9, 2003," says Devondia.
Leading up to that fateful day Devondia went through periods of having flu-like symptoms, extreme fatigue, then frightening fainting spells. She openly discussed with me the promiscuous lifestyle she was living at the time.
"I was a big girl. I wore thick glasses and I had a jerry curl. So who is going to want her?," Devondia asks rhetorically. "So let me work what I got to get what I can. So that's what I basically did. I was having protected and unprotected sex. I didn't care."
When AIDS took over, Devondia spent 23 days at Presbyterian Hospital with a 107 degree fever. She also got seven blood transfusions. Just a simple inhale and exhale to breathe was difficult.
"I couldn't bathe myself. I couldn't use the bathroom on my own. I was planning my funeral in my mind," Devondia recalls.
She was also planning how to come clean to her 9 and 11 year old girls.
"With my girls, I didn't tell them right away. What I did was...I waited," Devondia explains. "My oldest screamed, she cried. She hollered and she stormed down that hallway. All she could see was death," says Devondia about that day.
If you're black, you are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS rates. According to the Mecklenburg County Health Department more than three-quarters of the cases seen in 2010 were among blacks alone.
Dr. Susan Reif is a researcher in Charlotte for Duke University. She revealed where the state of North Carolina falls when it comes to the number of people who die from AIDS.
"North Carolina was the 4th worst state for that," says Dr. Reif. "Most people who are infected that we talked to through our research are very frightened of disclosure."
"There's always a need for conversation. And any type of conversation anyone has can bring you to how to protect yourself. How to not get this disease," says Devondia. "This is a life changing disease and for anybody to say they're not affected by it, they just need to meet me."
Devondia takes more than a half dozen pills a day to control the virus. It's her last hope. Her body has become immune to other AIDS medications. But she's not letting that define her destiny.
"So I get to see two kids graduate, go to college and a grand baby," says Devondia smiling proudly.
She also wants to stop the vicious cycle of a disease that is 100 percent preventable.
Devondia has since started her own nonprofit called Rasberrirose Foundation. She speaks to African-American women and girls struggling with low self-esteem, with a major focus on HIV and AIDS prevention.