Cedric Sturdevant, 46, of Brandon knows how bad the HIV/AIDS crisis is among African Americans.
He’s lived with the virus since 2005, nearly died in 2006 after not seeking treatment for a year and today his status is AIDS. But none of that means he’s not living his life to the fullest.
As a project coordinator and prevention specialist with My Brother’s Keeper in Ridgeland, he spends his days discussing healthy relationships, safer sex practices among men and women and primarily counseling young African-American men who have sex with men – the sector of the U.S. population that in 2009 represented 73 percent of new infections among all black men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He’ll spend today at one of several sites in the metro area where My Brother’s Keeper will offer free HIV testing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Tonight, he’ll see the play Before It Hits Home set for 7:30 p.m. at Jackson State University’s Rose McCoy Auditorium.
The play, which tells the story of a jazz musician who is diagnosed with AIDS while having a pregnant fiancee and a male lover, promises tears and laughter, according to Mark Henderson, director of theater at JSU and founder of Maddrama Performance Troupe. Seven of its members comprise the play.
"We’re hoping to kind of have a wake-up call to the African-American community," says Henderson, who expects the play to entertain, educate and inspire the audience. "It will show how important it is to have compassion for those with HIV and (for everyone) to be careful of your decisions."
Sturdevant counsels men of all ages in a support group he leads for HIV positive African-American men
who have sex with men. Among the younger guys, ages 19-30, he is often referred to as "Mr. Ced" or
He has shared his story on national and local levels. Some guys reach out to him via Facebook or ask for him specifically when calling the center. Most are seeking help to live empowered lives with HIV.
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