Karen: I was only 18 when I had him. And we were like – we’re like buddies.
Duston: Mom just kind of came out and asked me.
Karen: Okay he’s gay, oh my God, he’s going to hell. You know. And I think I even told him that.
Karen: I let him leave. You know, I didn’t stop him from it. It was just my stupidity, my ignorance made me push him away.
Duston: You know, I was really kind of lost, and didn’t know what to do. This is where I always used to hang out. I’d walk up and down this road kind of all day long. And I remember hanging out with a bunch of other guys back there by the dumpster and just getting high and stuff.
Karen: And he called me, and he was just crying so bad, he was, he was scared to death. “Mama, I’m HIV positive.” Well, being a mama, my first thing is telling him, “Duston, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.”
Duston: My mom’s a huge part of the reason I want to stay healthy.
Karen: I did a lot of research online, and um realized that you know, I can kiss Duston and I’m not going to get it. We can use the same bathroom and it’s okay.
Duston: Try a kiwi.
Karen: You have to get a different mindset. He’s not going to hell, he’s not gonna die just cause he has HIV. My biggest thing is his medicines. He’s got to stay healthy.
Duston: And we shot a game of pool, and three hours to do…
Karen: He’s my kid, I love him with all my heart.
After learning her son, Duston, was living with HIV, Karen knew she needed to get facts on the disease – like how HIV is NOT spread through casual contact like sharing food or utensils. She plays a major role in helping to keep her son healthy and happy – including making sure he stays in care and on his medication.
Stay Healthy, Prevent HIV
A person with HIV who is in ongoing care can live a normal lifespan. In addition to improving health, HIV treatment also prevents the spread of the virus to others.