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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

HIV Disclosure: African Americans Tell How They Told

 6/13 

Fortunata Kasege

Fortunata Kasege, Houston, Texas, diagnosed in 1997

The best one was the first time when I told my story in public. I remember it.

After my father died, it seemed like the end of the world. But I decided to go out and share my story. I decided to talk about awareness and maybe somebody will be touched by this, so it isn't all tragedy.

I got this invitation to go to Kentucky. They had a fundraiser gala for World AIDS Day last year. That was my first time to go up there and tell my story in public. I remember after I finished, everybody stood up and they remained standing there for a few minutes. They were clapping constantly.

I remember looking, and wondering, what is so special about this thing? I was overwhelmed; they had a standing ovation for me -- that was probably the only one that I can remember that was an over-the-top reaction. I thought, "Here I am, telling my business, right in front of people. I don't know how they're going to react." The outcome was remarkable. They were coming after that to talk to me and thank me for sharing my story and encouraging me.

The pastor from the community said, "People here, they're very uptight, and very conservative thinking about this disease. They have their way of thinking about the people who have this disease. You put a new face on it, and thank you. We want you to come back and speak to our church."

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