Deondre Moore was in his first year of college when he was diagnosed with HIV. His first thought was “I need to go home.”
“I know my mom loves me, but I didn’t know what her response was going to be.” He had heard stories about others being rejected by their loved ones for sharing their status, but that’s not what happened.
A powerful new mini-doc series from Greater Than AIDS, supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, tells the powerful story of one large Texas family facing HIV together.
“I thought, I refuse to bury my child,” recalls Deondre’s mom, Kathy, when he gave her the news. “I said, ‘We’ll take care of what needs to be taken care of. We got this’.”
According to surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 40 percent of Black Americans report having someone close to them with HIV.
Kathy didn’t know much about HIV, so together they got educated. “She was there from the very beginning. She went to the doctor with me, asked questions and made sure we knew everything that there was to know,” says Deondre.
Because he is on treatment, Deondre today is undetectable – which means the amount of virus in the blood is so low that it can’t be detected. Being undetectable not only means better health but also prevents the spread of the disease.
In addition to his parents, it was also important to Deondre that he be able to talk about what was going on with him with his large extended family. ”I shouldn’t have to hide who I am or what I am or what’s a part of my life from anyone.”
While HIV affects many families, it is still often not discussed in many homes. And, yet, research shows people with HIV who have social support are more likely to get and stay in care.
The love and support they showed him gave Deondre the confidence to share his story publicly, beginning with his church. “I thought I have an opportunity here to use my voice, share my story, and it felt like that’s what I was supposed to do.”
“People started coming up to us, stopping us, thanking us,” he recalls of the outpouring that day. “It was about starting a conversation that needs to be talked about.”
As Kathy says, laughing, “He’s not going to stop until he’s reached as many people as he can. And nothing but God will stop him.”