What are some of the things that people have said?
I haven't heard anyone say anything about her but, you know, just the idea of people not wanting to touch a doorknob after someone that they may know has this disease or going to the restroom after someone who is positive is just ignorance, basically.
So like I said, I haven't really heard too, too much. But what I know is that that woman, my mother, she's a very strong woman, person. She's survived this. And that's all I'm really concerned with right now, is that I still have her here.
Do you think that people in your community in Baton Rouge know enough about HIV?
To be honest with you, they have many avenues out there. If they don't pay attention to it, then that's them signing their own death certificate, to the effect that they're not getting educated about it. But I would say that, yes, they have the materials out there, and throughout the community, for you to know that safe sex is the best sex.
That's where I'm at. Matter of fact, my wife made me wait for a year. We took one test. The first six months we took it, and then the second after six months; so it was a year before I actually had unprotected sex with my wife.
Had you ever been tested before?
Prior to her?
And so what would you tell straight black men out there who think, "I don't need to be bothered with this. This is not my . . . I don't need to get tested, whatever"?
I would say the best thing that I've heard is what my mom likes to say: "I know my status. Do you know yours?" That's basically it. Know your status so you can go forward. So that in the event you want to get married, or find that woman that you would like to be with, and you don't want to use condoms . . . you could get her tested, or you all could get tested together.
Knowing your status was a comfort to me.
If there was anything that you would want for people to know about your mother what would that be?
She's definitely determined to educate you, so that you can know, "It happened to me but it doesn't necessarily have to happen to you." So I would call her a determined person. She's very determined.
How do you think HIV has changed your mother?
She's more aware and more empathetic. That's the key word: She's more empathetic to what's surrounding the community.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.
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