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HIV/AIDS advocate, survivor spreads message of prevention and hope

Andrea Blackstone | 2/6/2015, 10:23 a.m.
February 7, 2015 marks the fifteenth year since African Americans have been encouraged to educate themselves about HIV and AIDS ...
DeVondia Roseborough was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. Roseborough uses her life experiences and determined spirit to empower others. She now has healthy T-cells and an undetectable level of HIV antibodies. (Courtesy Photo)

February 7, 2015 marks the fifteenth year since African Americans have been encouraged to educate themselves about HIV and AIDS in their local communities through National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This year’s theme is

“I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!”

DeVondia Roseborough routinely implements strategies in Charlotte, North Carolina with her nonprofit organization, The Rasberrirose Foundation that offers HIV education to women and girls.

“Communities are pivotal for holding town hall meetings, canvassing areas highly impacted by high HIV rates, and passing out condoms and literature, while engaging in conversations. I have noticed creative approaches that the national Red Pump Project presents with their Cupcakes & Condoms events, engaging participants in healthy conversations centered on relationships and sex. Of course free HIV testing is necessary in getting those who are unknowing of their status into medical care,” Roseborough, said.

In 2003, Roseborough decided to get tested after experiencing unusual symptoms. She discovered that she was HIV positive.

“My faith in Jesus, lots of prayer, my family and a tight circle of supportive friends keep me going,” Roseborough said. “In 2004, I was hospitalized with a 107 degree fever, pneumonia, a macrobacterial infection and infection on my liver.”

By January 4, 2004, Roseborough was told, “Miss Roseborough, your test results are back. You have AIDS.”

Roseborough leaned on God and spoke words of healing over herself. After hearing another woman speak candidly about living with HIV, Roseborough became a client and volunteer with an AIDS service organization called Metrolina AIDS Project.

“My case manager saw something in me and asked if I would speak in her hometown of Siler City, North Carolina. I agreed, and from that point on I was introduced to many trailblazers, and awarded opportunities to travel and share my story. I was also groomed properly in knowing the facts on HIV through various training provided by local, state and federal agencies and institutions, such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration), in addition to Duke University and local health departments,” Roseborough said.

Roseborough’s advocacy received national recognition. She was a 2010 Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards finalist in the best community leader category. The HIV/AIDS advocate has also been being nominated for Tom Joyner’s Morning Show's Hardest Working HIV/AIDS Traveling Advocate and selected to appear on Robin Meade’s Breakthrough Women segment, which airs on CNN’s HLN. Roseborough published her first book, “Put It On Paper,” in 2008 and published two additional titles relating to her experiences before and after her HIV diagnosis.

“I have been through a lot in life. Because of my pain, I knew that it was not only therapeutic to release what had me hostage, but also an opportunity to set others free,” Roseborough said.

The mother of two children and grandmother of a 2-year-old enrolled in the Johnson C. Smith University's Metropolitan Adult Degree Program in 2013. Roseborough returned to college at age 42, after the grant she worked under was not refunded. The Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society student says that the level of HIV antibodies are currently undetectable in her body.

“I think the beautiful thing about experiencing both daughters graduating high school, and going off to college, and the birth of my granddaughter was being able to say the doctors were wrong about my life’s plans and experiences. God said “I will live” when they told my mother there was nothing else they could do for me but to take me home

and basically let me die. I celebrated my accomplishments. This motivated me to do more, because my three depend on me to make a difference. I have no plans on stopping now,” Roseborough said.

The inspiration leader found love despite her diagnosis.

“You can live. It’s no longer a death sentence, unless you want to die. Be honest about disclosing (your status) when you feel intimacy is around the corner. Rejection is for your protection so don’t fear the unknown. They may be more compassionate than your mind will allow you to believe,” Roseborough said. “I am blessed to have a great support system around me, and for that I am grateful.”

You may learn more about Roseborough and her organization at:

www.RasberriRose.org or follow her at:

https://www.facebook.com/devondia.roseborough. For more information about NBHAAD, visit: www.Nationalblackaidsday.org