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Duston & Karen

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.

Click here to find out more about the health and preventative benefits of HIV treatment.