When, at 19 years old, Deondre Moore told his mother he was HIV-positive, she begged him not to tell his story. Deondre calls himself a mama’s boy. And at the World OutGames on Saturday, he had the slideshow to prove it. Moore told visitors about his life back home, focusing on faith, support, and family.
Moore and his mother are active members of their community, regular attendees at church services, and they host tremendous family dinners.
But Moore told it anyway. Deondre became an official Greater Than AIDS ambassador after joining the SpeakOut Campaign in 2015. Since then, he has worked in community outreach in his home state of Texas and across the U.S.
“Since coming out as HIV Positive and a professional speaker, I have traveled more in the last two years than I have in my twenty-two years of life,” Moore told SFGN. “One of the greatest places my work has landed me was Washington D.C. for an entire summer, where I had the privilege to intern for the Human Rights Campaign and work with a few Congressmen and Women.”
He even reached out to his own church, and spoke to them about the need for community outreach, for sex education, to raise awareness, and to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
It was through an HIV non-profit, BeeBusy, that Moore discovered he was HIV-positive. Out at a club with his friends one night, the group offered discreet testing on-site. Wanting to encourage his friends to get tested, Deondre lead by example, taking a mouth-swab test. When Deondre’s results came back positive, volunteers told him that the oral test was susceptible to false positives, that may result from drinking.
He told himself that’s what it was.
It wasn’t until he found himself chronically ill, first diagnosed with a severe flu, despite not having any flu symptoms, that Deondre decided to get re-tested. When he fell ill again, Moore sought out a blood-test, and confirmed what he had already known.
But accepting that part of his life, and getting others to accept it, has brought Deondre where he is today. Because he is on treatment, the virus in now undetectable in Deondre. Being undetectable means he’s in better health and prevents the spread of the disease.
In July of 2015 and 2016 Deondre was selected to become a part of the National Minority AIDS Council's Youth initiative as a Youth Leader. And as part of the Greater than AIDS campaign, Deondre and his mother have appeared side by side in a mini documentary series titled “We Are Family,” supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Moore is living a healthy life, openly, with the support of his friends and family, help from his church, and his mother by his side.
“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,” Deondre says about his decision to speak to his church.
“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.”
In the video, his mother Kathy laughs, “He’s not going to stop until he’s reached as many people as he can. And nothing but God will stop him.”
Check out a video from the mini-doc series below.