Catching up with Devondia Roseborough

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In January, Creative Loafing spent the day with Devondia Roseborough, a Charlotte woman living with AIDS, yet using her voice to help others.

On World AIDS Day, you can bet Roseborough is busy spreading her message of hope and prevention. Monday afternoon, she was in Greenville, N.C. about to speak on behalf of an AIDS/HIV advocacy group, at East Carolina University.

She’s expanded her reach from just speaking about AIDS and HIV in the Charlotte area. “I’m doing state conferences, which has broadened my horizons,” she said. And Roseborough has stepped outside the box when it comes to the places where she’ll speak as well.

Instead of just sharing her message with churches and schools, she’s also speaking to people at nightclubs. Because, let’s face it, many people go to the club and find sexual partners that they don’t know much about. That can be dangerous in Mecklenburg County.

“You’re at the club and you’re about to get these drinks. Do you know who you’re leaving with and what their status is or what your status is,” she said.

Since last speaking with Roseborough, she has published her memoirs, Put It On Paper.

“I’ve gotten great reviews on it. I use the book as a tool to encourage people that are newly infected as well as those who are family members of those who are infected. So that they can see what somebody, with a real story that didn’t mind sharing, has gone through,” she said.

She’s about to start training to be a case manager and she plans to switch the focus of her Rasberrirose Foundation to helping teens with HIV and AIDS. “It’s going to be Rasberrirose Inc. so I can do more. What I’m doing now is looking into case management for teens so they will have somewhere to go,” she said.

Roseborough has been living with AIDS since December 9, 2003. When she was diagnosed, she had a T-Cell count of 19. Today, she said her T-Cell count is 500 and she only has to take three medications a day.

A normal T-Cell count for someone infected with HIV is above 500. For a non-infected person, the normal T-Cell count is between 700 and 1000. When the T-Cell count drops below 200, a person is classified as having AIDS, according to an article written by registered nurse Mark Cichocki, which was published on About.com.

“I want people to see that it’s not that bad, but it can be if you allow it to be,” she said.

Roseborough said the high rate of HIV and AIDS in Mecklenburg County shows the need for more education and more collaboration between agencies in the area.

“People want to stand alone and do it on their own and they don’t want to stand together and show that unity. Also, people aren’t taking responsibility for themselves. They are caught up in the moment.”

She said that it is important for people — not just men — to have condoms available.

“Some women don’t carry condoms and if the man doesn’t have it, they think, 'It’s all right as long as you don’t ejaculate inside me,'” said Roseborough. “They don’t know the repercussions behind that. It’s not just about getting pregnant or a simple STD that you can get rid of. You have HIV and AIDS that have no cure.”

So, what is it that keeps Roseborough on this mission?

She said it’s a promise that she made to God.

“I know what He did for me when I was in that hospital with that fever and those infections. I made a commitment to Him because he did something for me. If I would’ve given up, I wouldn’t be here to do what I’m doing.”

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