Everyday Heroines: Devondia Roseborough Uses Her AIDS Battle to Teach Others

(Charlotte Observer) Two things happened to DeVondia Roseborough as she lay in a Carolinas Medical Center bed in January 2004, battling an A...

(Charlotte Observer) Two things happened to DeVondia Roseborough as she lay in a Carolinas Medical Center bed in January 2004, battling an AIDS-related infection that threatened to take her life.

“The main thing I wanted to do was survive to see the Panthers in the Super Bowl,” says Roseborough, a self-described “huge, huge” fan of Charlotte’s NFL team.

After three weeks in a hospital, she recovered enough to return home for the Panthers’ only Super Bowl game – a narrow loss in February 2004 to New England.

Roseborough says she also heard God talk to her while she was in that hospital bed. “He told me to help others,” she says.

On this observance of World AIDS Day, Roseborough, 42, stands as an example of how the virus can be fought.

She has spent the past decade improving her health and trying to help other women avoid infection by reducing risky behavior. She has self-published two books, started a foundation and given talks everywhere from the Duke University campus to people’s living rooms.

Roseborough has raised two daughters and now attends classes full time at Johnson C. Smith University.

“I live life to the fullest,” she says. “Every day, I expect something good to happen.”

Falling ill

Roseborough thought she was helping others in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when she worked as a YWCA counselor. She already was a mother of two at the time, having packed a lot into the first three decades of her life – graduation from Garinger High in 1991; a brief stay in cosmetology school; giving birth to her first daughter and living in public housing; getting a Habitat for Humanity house and having a second daughter.

“Health officials came into the YWCA and talked to women about safe sex,” Roseborough says. “I was helping with those programs, yet I was doing the things they advised women not to do.”

She began feeling ill in 2001 and the symptoms were a lot worse in December 2003, when a test showed she was HIV-positive.

“I didn’t scream or curse,” she says. “I knew my mistakes had caught up with me.”

Within a month, she became ill and she says doctors told her she had AIDS.

Then came the turnaround, after the 23-day hospital stay, the Panthers’ game, and the message to help others.

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