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HIV Heroes Speak on Depression and Isolation Felt by HIV Community 

In Episode 3 of HIV Heroes, we meet two advocates using their gifts and personal stories to better the lives of members of the HIV community. We catch up with Deondre Moore and Jade Elektra while at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal — better known as AIDS 2022 — the world’s largest gathering on HIV and AIDS, to learn about their work and what drives them.

Deondre Moore discusses his role as Director of U.S. Partnerships and Community Engagement with the Prevention Access Campaign — ”the official organization that launched the U=U, or undetectable equals untransmittable, movement.” In his role, Moore works to engage different communities all over the U.S. to join the U=U movement, which is helping to dismantle HIV stigma.  

At the age of 19 while in college, Moore began to share his story after his diagnosis. Moore says that by speaking out, he found “layers of shame” and “layers of weights being lifted off (his) shoulders” and realized “there are other people, students, on campus elsewhere, who might not have the same support, but they need to know that they're still loved and that they still matter and they’re valued.” This drives Moore’s activism and organizing in the U=U movement today, which “has shaped millions of people all over the world and it's something that helps remove stigma.” 

Jade Elektra shows us “the power of the wig and some makeup.” Elektra is a drag queen and music artist best known for her viral rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” entitled “Undetectable”, which ignited a global U=U conversation. “I wanted to make sure that somebody was speaking up and wasn’t afraid because that's the main problem, the stigma behind being HIV-positive causes a lot of people to stay in the closet about their status,” says Elektra. 

In addition to using her platform to speak out, Elektra works to combat the depression and isolation felt by many in the HIV community. “A lot of HIV-positive people are depressed because they're isolated. So I wanted to bring the community together.” Elektra accomplished that through monthly events called MINGLE that she produces with her husband. Both Moore and Elektra’s inspiring stories illustrate the power of turning your gifts and experiences into action and activism. 

Learn more about their stories and others at HIV Heroes.

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