Marvelyn Brown

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/01/art.ypwr.brown.jpg

caption="Marvelyn Brown, 24, wrote 'The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive'"]
She went through hell alone. Her family made her use paper plates and plastic forks when she ate. At 19, she slept in her car. When Marvelyn Brown was diagnosed with HIV, she not only contracted a virus, she got the stigma that goes along with it.

But, this former track star sprinted past the misconceptions associated with the virus, the sterotypes and the fear. Marvelyn would rather live her life like a marathon, talking with and educating young people about the disease. She wrote the book, “The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive,” using the parenthesis there on purpose.

Almost 30 years after the disease was first reported, Marvelyn deals with the stereotypes everyday while keeping a positive outlook. “We exist in a world where we continue to define the disease as only affecting people with a certain look or belonging to a certain socioeconomic group. I’m living proof that nothing is farther from the truth,” she says. Especially now around Black Aids Day, Marvelyn wants to prevent young women from having unprotected sex, and if they make the mistake once like she did, they don’t have to go through the same thing she did socially and emotionally.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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121 Responses to Marvelyn Brown

  1. Samatha says:

    She sounds amazing! I will check the book out. I want to know, how do you stay so positive despite living with AIDS?

  2. Andy says:

    Good Job Girl,
    I can feel for what you went through even though I can not have full appreciation for it.
    Keep teaching people how to behave like humans first.

    Andy

  3. Michael Evans says:

    Marvelyn,
    Your story is an inspiration and a motive for being positive no matter what one may face in this world. Your persistence is something that everyone should know about. I look forward to seeing the interview!

  4. Maria L. says:

    Marvelyn-

    May God bless you for the courage and optimism you possess that enables you to educate people about your life!!! I had an opportunity to read your book (it was a great read).

    Question: In your opinion, why do African Americans suffer from the HIV/AIDs virus more than any other ethnic group?

    ***I work with minority teenagers everyday and it’s extremely difficult to get them to accept the reality of STDs/HIV/AIDs that exists in their community. I’d love to have you speak to them… I’m sure CNN wouldn’t mind passing you my email address ;-)***

  5. john t says:

    You’re awesome! I’m going to get the book today!! My question is how long did it take you to see the positive side of things after realizing you were positive?

  6. Edwin Rivera says:

    You are truly an inspiration for all people! Continue on your journey with your head held high.

  7. Sean Dennison says:

    You are awesome. Whenever I see or hear about someone like you, it makes me want to be a better and stronger person. Now that I understand HIV better, I realize that, while it’s nothing that you should want to have, it is not the end of days. It’s a challenge to deal with and you seem to be doing a great job of it.

    By the way, you really are beautiful.

  8. Gifted says:

    I hope God Blesses you in all your dreams. Keep up the work !!!!

  9. Michelle says:

    I will keep you and all the others that are unknown in my prayers. Keep your head up and you will continue to be a blessing in my life as well as other people.
    I was wondering if you are only 24, how is possible to find out so early because I thought the disease could lay dormant for 10 to 15 years with any detection.

    Be blessed

  10. Allen says:

    Marvelyn-

    I know its not easy for us young people to come out on the open to say it like it is, we would like to sugar colt it but am so glad for you and proud of the work you are doing. It’s my hope and prayer that God will give you the courage and the hope to continou the good work.

    God be with you.

    Allen

  11. keesha says:

    Marvelyn,

    You are a beautiful young woman, and you are definitely inspiring. I have to admit that when I first saw your picture a chill went through me that said that could be me or my daughter. It’s a scary feeling for all young black women, yet maybe we need that fear once in a while to keep us in check with safe sex. Please keep doing what you do and I pray for you and your continued good health .

  12. Nikki M. says:

    Marvelyn,
    Your courage & strength are testimonies of the true meaning of faith. From your point of view, what is the most effective way to teach young woman about HIV/AIDS? The negative stigma prevents a lot of people from getting tested. How can we stop this? It’s especially important in the black community where so many other health concerns have yet to be addressed.

  13. brittny says:

    wow i am going to go get that book, it sounds so inspirational!

  14. Andrea M says:

    Marvelyn,

    God bless you sweetie!! You are truly and inspiration and I believe that what the devil meant for bad in your life, GOD will use it for good and allow you to continue being a blessing to many, many youth that need to hear this from one of their peers. You stay up and stay positive!!

    God bless you!!!

  15. Vibrant says:

    I read the book “Naked Truth” . Marvelyn I pray that God will keep you healthy and bring you into the awareness that sex outside of marriage is fornication and a product of SATAN and if you turn to God Almighty with utter and blind faith and committ to walk with him and only him – he will guide you in the right path. The reality is there is no safe sex- condoms are not 100% effective. Marvelyn, God has someone special for you- a man that will truly love you, protect you and provide for you and not just “use your body ” for his own selfish pleasure.
    Start advocating for God and sex within the sanctity of marriage instead of just protected sex.
    The “bastard” who infected you knew he had HIV and he “deliberately”
    had unprotected sex with you. That is pure EVIL – . He deserves a prison sentence for deliberately infecting you with a incurable disease.
    Marvelyn, I know you are still young but please know God loves you- stay away from fornication- you don’t want to take the risk of being infected with another strain of HIV or other STD’s. You are a beautiful young lady – and you deserve much much better – please claim it.

  16. Vibrant says:

    Answer to Question:
    Why do African Americans suffer more with HIV?
    I know you are not going to like my answers but there are probable reasons. I am a professional who has worked in the black community for years in Public Health.
    1.) When HIV 1st became a reality back in the 80’s most AA refused to believe that it could infect them. They felt it was a Gay White Man’s disease and that God was punishing Gay White Men. But the reality is : A disease is not a respecter of man. And Gay White Men were not the only ones committing sins. Fornication is all over the Black community. To God sin is sin.
    2.) Black Men have a high rate of incarceration- and recycling in the Black Community. Rape and consenual gay sex in prison is a reality.
    I don’t care how Masculine the man looks – you don’t know whether he is on the “down low” and if a man is raped in prison that is a hard thing for him to admit- so the chance that he will divulge this information is not likely. Gay sex – put ones at higher risk for HIV infection.
    3.) Black women and prosmicuity. Having sex with multiple partners.
    And we all know Black women who will have a household of children by different fathers. Or black women who will allow a black man (fresh out of prison) to move into their house within a short period after meeting them.
    Why are the women doing this? I believe they have low self esteem- a lot of black women from this generation grew up in a household without a father.
    I could go on and on but these are just some “points” to ponder.
    We cannot solve the problem unless we truly acknowledge the problem.

    P.S. I am African American

  17. Bemnet says:

    Marvelyn
    I’m humbbled with the attitude and strength that you possess. May god bless you and the hard work that you put in to be an inspiration to young people all over the world .

  18. shereah says:

    Thanks for lettin people kno that even tho you have something that is slowing you down your not going to give up!Thanks

  19. Theresa says:

    It’s good to see that you are not allowing the disease to get the best of you. I think you are setting a great example for not just young people – but people in general living with HIV, that life is not over.

    My question would be: Is it hard for you to date these days? When you tell a guy you are HIV positive, what is the typical response?

  20. Kinsky says:

    Great Job !!!

    Marvelyn, sickness can affect your body , but neither your mind nor your soul.Keep being positive and strong by teaching others about the HIV.-

    bye

  21. Jazmine Harris says:

    Did your boyfriend stick with you after you found out you had tested postive for HIV?

  22. J says:

    Why does it have to be “Black” Aids Day??

  23. Viper says:

    Continue to be Blessed as well as a “BLESSING”. You are such a powerful young lady and is helping so many others. Be the strong woman God has created you to be.

  24. sam ingram says:

    I am glad to see you have not let this health issue stop you from being the beautiful person you really are. Take good care of yourself, only good things will happen to you.

  25. $miley says:

    I applaud you for being so brave. I think that HIV is handled the way that being gay is handled in America. I think that with HIV people act like they are immune to it. I just can’t imagine eating with my family and using throw away utensils and dishes. I commend you and though I am not religious god bless.

  26. Adam Dorsey says:

    Let God be the judge of beauty.

  27. Vibrant says:

    Parents:

    Please teach your children to live a GODLY life and set a GODLY example for them.
    HIV/AIDS is not a pretty picture. And the pharmaceutical companies are lining their pockets off the poor patients. Whenever you take a drug you are going to have to face side effects and on and on. So in essence your life is going to be a revolving door of endless doctors and trips to the pharmacy. Take a look at the ADS and people advertising HIV drugs – they want to reduce the fear and make you think its not so bad. It’s bad- it’s a incurable disease with many stigmas attached.
    Let’s put our energy and money in PREVENTION.
    STOP THE PROMISCUITY.
    PROMISCUITY IN THE COMMUNITY IS LEADING TO: FATHERLESS CHILDREN, POVERTY, AND DISEASE.

  28. Tamara says:

    It’s people like you who are consumed with self-hatred that spew this nonsense. Women PERIOD can be promiscuous, not just Black women. I have a White girlfriend who has 3 children by 3 White fathers, so what’s your answer to that one? A higher percentage of infections occur in the Black community because statistically, there are fewer Black people. The communities are more close-knit and that makes the potential for spreading disease higher. Whether you have sex with one person or ten, Black or White, the risk is all the same if you don’t know the other person’s status.

    Posted by Vibrant
    “Black women and prosmicuity. Having sex with multiple partners.
    And we all know Black women who will have a household of children by different fathers. Or black women who will allow a black man (fresh out of prison) to move into their house within a short period after meeting them. Why are the women doing this? I believe they have low self esteem- a lot of black women from this generation grew up in a household without a father. I could go on and on but these are just some “points” to ponder. We cannot solve the problem unless we truly acknowledge the problem.

    P.S. I am African American”

  29. Chris says:

    Hi Marvelyn,

    I know everyone here has said what an inspiration you are, but it is defintely true. I fully understand why you were named MARVELyn. You are a marvel.

    I have a few of questions. I apologize if these are repeats.

    What medications are you on, and more importantly, how do you incorporate exercise into you treatment regimen? Was exercise “presribed” by the doctors who treat you? I ask this because it seems that with this situation, the people I know who are fairly avid about exercise or are on a strong exercise program seem to have the upper hand at keeping HIV in more of a dormant stage.

    Are you finding as time goes along, that people who find out that you are HIV positive are more understanding about it than say, maybe people were 5 to 10 years ago? I’m curious to see what the perception of someone whose opinion truly matters on this. I hope that it is much more of a positive than it was in the 1980s.

    My last question is what are your career aspirations and how do you feel this situation has molded the direction you are wanting to take your life? Sorry to be a bit wordy here :-). Have you been given the opportunities that you have tried for or has this hindered you in any way? Has it (in an odd way) added to your goals (maybe via charity, medical or educational goals)?

    Best of luck. Prayers are with you!!! Do all you can do in life and thanks for sharing your story!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Pastor Reginald Levi Wlaker says:

    Although it is sad to read that someone so young has to deal with the stigma of being HIV positive, this is an inspiring story to read. My prayers are with this young woman as she deals with this misunderstood disease. I do know exactly what she is going through. I have been HIV positive for over 20 years and have dealt with a lot of rejection from family, friends, churches and many other. Nevertheless, I do know one thing. As long as I keep my faith in God everything will be alright. Please continue to look forward to living in spite of HIV and do not become consume with dying because of HIV. Life is good as long as you choose to live a good life.

    As always, may God bless each of us in our struggles to stay in the land of the living,
    Pastor Reginald Levi Walker

  31. brian says:

    I don’t doubt that Marvelyn has learned and weathered a lot of tough lessons. But, this article starts out with an example of her ‘hellish’ life: “Her family made her use paper plates and plastic forks when she ate”

    I’m really confused by that – is that some sort of crime? I ate off of paper plates and plastic forks through most of college – and often feed my kids the same way even though we have “nice plates” in the cupboard. This is just a weird to me.

  32. WILL says:

    Its takes a big heart to put yourself out there like that. just wanted you to no that God loves you no matter what and he does heal our bodies but there is things we have to do also. may God bless you.. will

  33. Kit says:

    Oh Marvelyn,

    Let me start off by saying that God left you here on Earth for a special purpose. You are a beautiful young lady. I hope you know God and I hope you serve him. Only He can make everything all right. Please just keep your eyes focused oon heaven. It will be all right. I am very proud of you. You have written a book. Take care of yourself.

  34. Eneas Emvula says:

    Hi, M. Glad to have read your article. It just added to my self esteem. I m in Namibia, one of the most affected countries in Southern Africa. Would like to hear from you soon. Really. To tie friendship with you would not be a mistake. This is a living truth in your shoes. Trust and Believe. Please to contact me a.s.a.p.. Keep your head high. God Bless.

  35. Rissa says:

    Always an inspiration. God Bless U and I will get ur book as soon as possible.

  36. tanya says:

    i think that you are a postive role model for us . i am glad to see that you have not let your diease tear you down .stay postive my sister.

  37. Mara says:

    To brian,
    I believe they were making her use plastic forks and paper plates because they were afraid they would “catch” the disease from using the same utensils. I can only imagine how terrible she must have felt.

  38. Kelly says:

    I agree – what’s with the “‘Black’ Aids Day”?

  39. Deidre says:

    I personally know 3 young people that are HIV pos..Two black women and one Hispanic. I can only take my hat off to the young lady in this article. The one question I have is ..Has contracting this disease made you bitter towards men?? I have asked my 3 friends that same question with different answers.

  40. moe says:

    “We exist in a world where we continue to define the disease as only affecting people with a certain look or belonging to a certain socioeconomic group. I’m living proof that nothing is farther from the truth,” she says.

    psst, no you’re not. you the example. you are the stereo-type. The only thing missing (unless simply not mentioned), is for you to have 2 – 3 kids from 2 different fathers. Beyond that, no young lady, you are not “farther from the truth”, you epitomize it.

  41. shannon says:

    Marvelyn,
    You are a blessing. Your strength gives strength to so many. God bless you always. Thank you for being such an incredible spirit in this world.

  42. Alex says:

    I DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE – IF YOU WERE NOT BORN WITH HIV (LIKE SOME BABIES DO DUE TO THEIR PARENTS) AND YOU HAVE IT AS AN ADULT THEN YOU ARE EXTREMELY IRRESPONSIBLE NO EXCUSES WHAT SO EVER FOR NO ONE. WHAT EVER THE CASE MAY BE, IF YOU ARE SLEEPING AROUND YOU ARE BOUND TO GET IT SOONER OR LATER. YOU WANT THE PLEASURES OF THE FLESH THEN WELCOME THE SIDE EFFECTS. THE ONLY SCENARIO I CAN SEE THAT WOULD NOT MAKE YOU A STUPID PERSON WOULD BE IF YOU SIGNIFICANT OTHER CHEATS ON YOU AND YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT IT AND THEN YOU ARE JUST VERY UNLUCKY BUT IN THIS CASE THE WOMAN WAS PROBABLY USING STEROIDS AND SHARED A NEEDLE OR SOMETHING . I AM 30 YEARS OLD AND HAVE NO STD, HIV OR AIDS IF I CAN DO IT AND STAY SAFE WHY CAN’T THE REST OF THE HUMANS IN THIS PLANET.

  43. Steph says:

    Vibrant…..save the sermon…I’m glad you’re committed to God, but truthfully, it is people like YOU that drive people away from the church and into harms way,with your “absolute righteousness”. People like YOU actually proliferate the spread of HIV in our community. Honey, if you feel that you are on the right path to salvation…then stay on it. But know this,…not everyone’s path to God is the same as yours.

    J. commented :”why does it have to be Black Aid’s Day?”…….Because of people like Vibrant, thats why….its NOT a black/white thing J.. In the black community HIV /Aids bears a double stigma. In the black community it’s not only a “Gay” disease….but it’s also straddled with old exclusionary practices passed on within black churches that has forced a lot of black men to stay in the closet about their sexuality…ultimately, resulting in more instances of closeted gay men spreading HIV aids in the community. So its not a “RACE” thing at all.
    Its a positve, long over due, grass roots movement to educate our youth.

  44. Amy says:

    Wow…It amazes me that people still say such ignorant things in this day and age. All African American women do not have several children by several different men nor do we all have sex with any and everyone but that is what the rest America would like to believe. There are so many other things that I would like to say but I will leave you with this…Check yourself before you talk down to a beautiful young woman who is trying to educate others so that they will not have to suffer as she has.

  45. Alex says:

    PS WHY IS SHE SO DAMN SPECIAL?!! PLEASE PEOPLE THERE ARE WORSE CASES OF PEOPLE WITH HIV WITH WORSE PROBLEMS, OOOH POOR LADY!! BLAH BLAH BLAH.. CASUE SHE WAS AN ATHLETE? WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN AFRICA DYING OF HUNGER? GET YOUR PRIORITY STRAIGHT PEOPLE!!! OR THE LITTLE GIRL CAYLEE FOR EXAMPLE? WHAT IS SO DAMN SPECIAL ABOUT HER? THERE ARE MILLIONS OF KIDS MISSING EVERYDAY, SO WHY THIS GIRL ON THE NEWS? SAME DEAL HERE, NOTHING SPECIAL STOP CRYING AND WYNNING YOURE NOT A HERO

  46. It isn't important says:

    It must be hard living with HIV and stuff. I don’t know much about it. All I know it takes a lot of people all over. You have to be very, very strong to cope with the ramifications of such a serious illness and all. I commend you for that.

  47. Lena says:

    I work with the youth group at my church, and was wondering if you do speaking engagements. I pray God strength and bless you.

  48. Marv's Bestie says:

    It is amazing to see how Marvelyn has and still is inspiring so many people. She is a WONDERFUL person and I am extremely proud of her. Everytime I see her speak or read an article about her I get chills. Ive heard her story a million times and almost know it by hard and yet I never get tired of hearing it bc it’s so inspirational. I swear I have the greatest best friend in the world. :-) Love u Marv! You are the true definition of a Strong Woman.

  49. Have to agree with Alex says:

    Sounds like she is doing her best despite the AIDS, but all you had to do was use a condom. I think people who do things the right way everyday are the heroes, not the ones who didn’t.

  50. Aiden Hivster says:

    Im just glad that I dont have aids.

  51. MHLEWIS says:

    I had a aunt who died with this disease as well as some coworkers and a friend. It is ashamed that we know the risks and still act as though we are afraid to contract the disease from a hand shake or silverware. What we do not think of is that we do not know who has HIV/AIDS when we go out to eat, by something at the mall or grocery store or even who handled the money we handle. My thing is, be greatful for the people who tell you because they are not the ones to fear. It is the people who do not know or who will not tell.

  52. Marv's Bestie says:

    And to Alex…Please spread your hate somewhere else. Not everyone is as miserable and angry as you are. It’s not about Marv being “SO SPECIAL”, it’s about her stepping up to the plate and putting her own HIV status out there in an attempt to educate people and save lives ultimately. I’m not surprised at all that the work that she has done in and outside of the HIV community went straight over your head. For years she has dedicated her life to educating people about a disease that is killing so many people. TRUST ME I KNOW. While me and our other friends were going to parties and doing things that the average 19-20 year old female does Marv was going to colleges, churches, etc. speaking to people about how to prevent themselves from contracting this disease or being able to be comfortable in their own skin and start to live their lives again if they too were Positive. U can say all the negative you want. It still will never top all of the positive she has done.

  53. Jon says:

    TO MOE

    What Marvelyn is saying is she is NOT GAY, SHE WAS NEVER ON DRUGS and SHE WAS NOT BORN IN AFRICA. Read her book you will find out not only that this girl is far from perfect but her message.

  54. tellitlikeitis says:

    vibrant:

    before you start beating people over the head with the bible you need to realize that more new HIV infections are increasing in african american women and its not just happening to those in bf/gf relationships, women who are married are now getting infected with HIV/AIDS from their husbands who cheated or strayed outside of the relationship. it is also happening in the black church. i read a local story about a woman who’s husband was a deacon in a church who was on the down lown and knowingly infected her with HIV/AIDS. her husband’s doctor had to call and give her the news because he was not man enough to do so. the reason the HIV/AIDS cases are so high among African American women is because some are so desperate to have a man that they will lower their standards, not ask the right questions and feel obligated to consent to unprotected sex for fear of losing the man or ending up alone. if women would love themselves enough to make sure they know their man’s HIV status as well as their own this epedemic would not be so out of control. and for the record the late REV JAMES CLEVELAND died of AIDS when he passed away not from cancer as previously reported.it is also said that he infected some young boys with the diease who went to that church. there is plenty of adultery going on in the black churches as well every mistress of the pastor thinks she is going to be the first lady. you need to take these things into account before using the bible to judge and condemn people with this diease.

  55. lbad says:

    Alex— your comment has proven that you are the STUPID PERSON. You have no compassion. No sympathy for the human condition. Unless you and the person you intend on having sex with get tested prior to intercourse there is no way to be 100% sure you will not contract anything. A lot of STDs/HIV are dormant. The person that has the STD is unaware of it which is why everyone should get tested. If you have gotten tested prior to every partner than you are smart. But chances are you havent and are just lucky. Although you might not find this woman a hero I do. For the mere fact that she is hopeful, that she is looking towards the future, that although this shitty thing has happened to her she wants to live and contribute to society. How do you add to society besides making ignorant and rude comments?

  56. Tamara Y.Easton says:

    i think WOMEN just like you is what WE all need.. The facts are that u have accepted this fate..and not only have you not given up.. you have given pieces of yourself to educate all of us.. My mother was diagnosed a few years ago and it has been rough.. Other family members act as if they can “handle” it .. but in reality they can’t.. Your article has touched me so much i just can’t put it into to words.. Thank you and may god continue to bless you as we continue this journey..

  57. Tamara Y.Easton says:

    Alex…. u are ignorant!!

  58. Tamara Y.Easton says:

    Alex….OMG!!!! the more i read about your comment the angrier i get!!! i pray that U GET HIV and EVERYONE YOU KNOW TURNS THEIR BACK ON YOU… YOU LOSE EVERYTHING!!!! IT’S PEOPLE LIKE U THAT I WOULD LOVE TO PLACE IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD.. YOU’RE SO STUPID!!!! U DON’T DESERVE TO LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. HD says:

    Marveyln,

    Godspeed to you!! May you continue to be an inspiration to all who may be ignorant…or pretend ignorance to this particular reality of life! I anxiously await your book and story. My question is with the stigma that surrounds HIV or any sexually-transmitted disease and the people affected by them, have you been able to establish and/or maintain intimate (not necessarily, but not excluding sexual) relationships? Does letting the “other person” know your condition prevent relationships from forming?

  60. Renee says:

    You are a very strong I mean a strong Black sister keep your head up high and keep the Lord frist he will never leave you.

    Be Bless

  61. N says:

    Alex is a doorknob.

    She’s in the news because she has the courage to come out and share her story- that she is young, beautiful and unfortunately is hiv positive. (not aids…) She is using her own mistakes as a tool to educate young women about the dangers of this disease. A 12 year old girl is more likely to listen to a gorgeous 24 year old than one of her teachers- think how many girls strive to emulate britney spears? So think before you spew idiotic comments. You may not have any std’s- but you have a miserable attitude.

  62. Ellen says:

    I work at a clinic and know alot of women with the disease. Trust me it’s not just black,and hispanic women. There are whites,asains,and arabs with hiv. I myslef had several family members with the illness,and I admit that it was scary at first. I am a young white woman.I was led to believe that it was either a gay,or minority disease. I never thought it would creep into my inner circle,but it did. Two cousins got it from sleeping with white men fresh out of prison,and three got it from meth and heroin use. We need to understand that this is not a black or white thing. This is a human race thing. Anyone can get it. I am so proud of this young lady for having the courage to come out and stand up on her own. The people making fun of her don’t have a third of the strength she has. Alot of my older family members turned their backs on the younger one’s once they found out. It almost ripped my family apart. These young women need love and support,not judgement,because judgement is only reserved for the lord.

  63. Sara says:

    I am sure she is kicking herself enough over her past decisions, but God will forgive her for premarital sex if she asks for forgiveness. Everyone makes terrible mistakes, but that is how we learn. More importantly, that is how we help other people. It is great that she is turning her disease into something positive, and I am sure that she will impact the lives of many.

  64. Michael Evans says:

    Anyone criticizing this young woman knows not the idea of turning a negative life situation into a positive one, and they are lacking the realization of the mental toughness that Marvelyn has demonstrated through her work.
    This is no ordinary person; this is the type of person that this world needs more of. Everyone on this blog, myself included, has made mistakes that have lead to irreversible circumstances. Few of, if any, of these people have done what Marvelyn does.
    Let’s remember why she’s being featured on YPWR.

  65. A Caring Person says:

    Dear, I am Not your Judge or Jury; however, I do think you are a very brave young lady to share your story so that others will learn just what it is to go through sooooooo horrible ordeal and live to tell about it! Keep up the Great Work!!!

  66. pm says:

    What Marvelyn is saying is she is NOT GAY, SHE WAS NEVER ON DRUGS and SHE WAS NOT BORN IN AFRICA. Read her book you will find out not only that this girl is far from perfect but her message.

    What do you mean SHE WAS NOT BORN IN AFRICA???

  67. Pingback: Staying Positive « Be Encouraged

  68. HIV Positive Here says:

    Alex I do not think that anyone classified Marvelyn as a Hero. What I do believe is that many people need to here a voice of hope regardless of the struggle that one is facing rather it be Cancer, HIV, Poverty, Drug Addiction, etc…. I am HIV+ and I have been fortunate to have family and friends that love and care for me regardless of what lives inside me. Do I feel as though I am a HERO and do I feel sorry for myself NO I DON’T. I have a few friends that are HIV+ and there family has disowned them. Many of them now feel as though they are worthless and no one loves them. I think Marvelyn’s story is a precious gift for a person that went through similar struggles to overcome stereotypes and show people that they can reach their dreams and they are worth something. This book could be a life or death difference for someone. It can also open eyes to more people to allow them to open their hearts and give to organizations that help FIGHT AIDS IN AFRICA. There are many tragedies that consume this world everyday. Each and one have there own importance and need a light to shine upon it to make people aware, And your comment about “all you have to do is wear a condom” is that of ignorance. People with HIV do not always contract HIV from being promiscuos. We all make mistakes in life and we have to deal with the consequences as I am sure that you have had to. You should really educate yourself before you make comments about a very complicated issue. I pray that you will oneday find the light.

    Marvelyn GOD bless you and continue to spread HOPE to the world.

  69. Wilson says:

    Yeah — we’re supposed to applaud someone who obviously was sleeping around and got HIV? Um, no. In my world, that’s called reaping what you sow. Bad girl.

  70. michael banks says:

    You are a very beutiful young and I pray that GOD may bless you, keep your head up.

  71. celeste says:

    The reasin it states that her family ” made her eat off paper plates and use plastic forks” is because they were not doing the same. The so called family was using silverware and dishes while she had to use the plastic.
    In reply to Brian
    I don’t doubt that Marvelyn has learned and weathered a lot of tough lessons. But, this article starts out with an example of her ‘hellish’ life: “Her family made her use paper plates and plastic forks when she ate”

    I’m really confused by that – is that some sort of crime? I ate off of paper plates and plastic forks through most of college – and often feed my kids the same way even though we have “nice plates” in the cupboard. This is just a weird to me.

  72. Andrew Farrell says:

    You are an inspiration, keep strong and do not let these narrow minded pieces of dog crap get you down

  73. Thank YOU says:

    It wasn’t until I got to medical school that I realized just how many people are HIV positive. Few people have the courage this young lady has displayed in trying to educate others. It would have been easy for her to fade into secrecy, but she is vocal about her mistake, and the disease she contracted as a result. If she saves only one young lady’s life, her mission is well worth it. I’m sure she has already rescued many! Thank you for your precious story. You ARE special. You ARE an overcomer!

    Since none of us is perfect, we can all identify with falling short. I remember going to get HIV tested, because I feared I had contracted the virus. Thankfully, I was negative, but Marvelle’s story could have been mine. Years of academic success, a loving family, a bright future, and sitting in church services couldn’t have saved me from HIV. God showed me grace and I thank Him for that. That experience taught me a very valuble lesson. I am not beyond HIV.

    Let’s make it clear, no one is immune (well actually, individuals with CCR5 receptor mutations are immune). This can happen to anyone, and I applaud Marvelyn for her mission.

    I’m gonna go get the book!

  74. celeste says:

    Alex i dont know who you are but obviously you are filled with hatred. You try to make your self the center of attention by being HATEFUL towards others. You even had the nerve to use the death of a child to make yourself sound good. This woman is special because she is trying to educate others. You are EVIL because thats how you chose to be. I feel SORRY for you. I hope you get over whatever has you filled with hate so that you can learn to have respect for others.

  75. Steph PHX says:

    Oh Alex, you my friend are either very young and quick with your tongue or extremely ignorant to the world around you. Don’t be so quick to judge people due to their circumstances, things often happen that are beyond ones control and when people are young they can make bad decisions, its called growing up. It appears to me that you have been sheltered by the church of whatever denomination but believe me the church is not a perfect place either. It appears that you have been filled with some sort of hate towards people that do not fit into the perfect world which you you have been taught which as you grow older you will find is not such a perfect place. Do you harbor such hatred toward someone with cancer? It is also a horrible disease with many side effects but does not carry the HIV stigma, I assume you think HIV is only spread through “fornication” by unwed individuals , drug users and homosexuals . I will have you know that I am happily married to my wife of 12 years who found out that she was HIV positive when she became pregnant with our second child, her medical records prior to the pregnancy proved that she contracted the disease after getting a tattoo, yes this was a difficult time but I am happy to say the baby was born HIV negative due to great medical care by people that have accepted that this disease is no different than cancer, diabetes or any other incurable disease, do yourself a favor be more forgiving of the world around you and accept what life has to offer you, you will be a much happier person in the end.

  76. Demeter Gian says:

    I am very glad that i read this article!
    i am very happy about the way you face this “problem”. you are great
    keep it up!
    there are more than one way to deal with a difficulty!
    bravo!!!!
    greece-demeter

  77. wanda says:

    Alex is right !! Harsh, but right………

  78. Eze Chimezie says:

    Be proud of who and what you are,it ain’t you alone.
    Continue being strong.
    I admire strongly your guts in the war against stigmatization.
    Martin Luther King Jr fought stigmatization and won,just that you fight stigmatization because of HIV, you will win someday no matter how long it takes.

  79. Timmy Leon Cordell says:

    Wow, I am so proud of you, what a compelling story, its very obvious to me God is not though w/you.
    If you are ever in North Carolina, I would love to me you some day, I have a relative who has Aids, I would love for you to talk w/ this person.
    Continue success in all you do, and may God continue to blessed you each & every day.

    Sincerly,
    Timmy Leon Cordell

  80. Rochelle says:

    Wow girl, you are a source of light to lots of us being put down by the disease. Keep up and i’ll make sure i go get a copy of your book.

  81. Yolanda says:

    Rock on Marvelyn! You are a HERO and you are an inspiration to all.

  82. nicolelapin says:

    Hey there, thanks so much for the great conversation and debate- if you have any VIDEO questions…put yourself on camera and submit to:
    http://www.ireport.com/ir-topic-stories.jspa?topicId=1311
    Then, I can hopefully use your question in my interview tomorrow.
    Nicole

  83. HIV Positive Here says:

    @ The Haters! You people make society so scary to live in. You know I often wonder why someone would live in denial with this disease as if they do no have it or scared to be seen at the doctor to seek treatment. I no longer need to wonder. It is haters like you that make it scary for people with HIV to do what they need to do to live a normal life. I think you may need to educate yourself on HIV before you decide to BLOG about it. Just remember that what comes around goes around and before you pass judgement on another you should take a moment to Self Reflect. Hell read the book before you comment on this girls life.

    Marveyln pay no attention to the haters. Keep doing your good work and educating people! GOD BLESS YOU LOVE!

  84. Ms. Hopeful says:

    Well I am proud that this young lady has been able to work through her illness. And I wish her all the best. However, I have to comment to ALEX and others who think like him: I am a 21 year old African American female and I was infected with several STDS at one time! By just one man we always used protection but just one time of bad judgment caused me a lot of grief. Many mistakes are made especially when you are young and trying to find yourself. However I must thank God that all was curable and it wasn’t HIV OR AIDS. I think people should be less judgment toward people. I’m sure if you get her book you will know her story and you will not have to make your ignorant assumptions Alex. And as far as vibrant not all aa have a house full of babies! I was 18 years old when this happened to me and now 21 with no kids and two semesters away from getting a degree! So please stop trying to help our race when in fact you are hurting it!

  85. annie says:

    My sister,

    I want to encourage you to stay strong. Some people have nothing better to other than just sit at there pc and type in negative remarks.

    Know that God had your back before this HIV and he surely has your back even more now. I don’t know what it’s like to have HIV. But from what I’ve read and the stories I’ve heard makes me know this isn’t a road I don’t care to go down.

    I do realize it’s so many different ways to contract HIV. That’s why I’m single and free of any type of sex or a relationship. This is by my choice only. Some men/women will lie to you from the start until the end.

    Some men/women have HIV and don’t tell there mates until it’s to late for them. I’m sitting at my pc listening to you speak tells me you are so educated and strong in your faith with God, which is just so great.

    Always walk tall talk bold with your head up my sister. Pay attention to all the positive people and things in your life now, not the negative.

    You have a job that God wants you to do for all woman/mankind. If God is for you dear, then who on this earth can be against you? Stay strong Ms. Brown :)

  86. Jeff Colclasure says:

    “Marvelyn’s Discovery” that she is not immortal is common in her age group. Few teenagers ever imagine that they could die young or know someone who will. The majority believes they can engage in the same risky behavior as everybody else, and “Some may die, but not me”. They use every illegal drug known to man, have sex with everything that moves, set land speed records on city streets, mutilate their bodies in tattoo parlors and at the skate park, but which ones actually understand the risks? They understand sudden destruction when they see it though! For an instant, I hope, they think “Dad/Mom was right” before its too late.

  87. Ntellect says:

    Congrats to the young lady for having the courage to face her choice and to do what she can to help others make a different choice. Shame to all the HATE that’s being spread on this blog. We all have faults and we have all made the wrong choice at some point in our lives. Many of us are just blessed we don’t have to deal with this type of consequence. It’s not a black or white issue, gay or straight, it’s a human being issue and the sad thing is, we have forgotten that we all bleed red blood…….I think. :)

    God bless all of us.

  88. denise wells says:

    i’ve been living with hiv for 13years and since have had 2 children they are both negative. i am married also to a positive man i had to come to grips that it was better for me to have a positive man than one that is negative because they understand what your going through. i am not on any medication because my virus is undetectable. and i live a normal life.

  89. Aaron says:

    “In fact, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black men, women and children in the U.S. ” That is a damn lie and people need to stop spreading misinformation, like Ms. Brown! I feel bad for her but she is being reckless and ignorant in her propoganda. Heart disease and tobacco related ilnesses are the leading cause of death for blacks by a mile! As a matter of FACT, ten times as many blacks die from bad oral hygiene than die from AIDS related illnesses. The HIV AIDS Hypothesis is a farce and a means of population control, people WAKE UP! If you don’t believe me go to the Center for Disease Control Webste below:
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_10.pdf

  90. A concerned dad says:

    Marvelyn I gave my 16 year old daughter your book for Christmas. And though she assured me she wasn’t having sex – I challenged her to make sure that she inisted on condoms and other preventative measures when she did start making teh mature decision to have sex. You are an exceptionally courageous young woman who is selflessly changing lives. You are not a hero/heroine because of this unfortunate disease – you are a heroine for how you have reacted to this. Many people would lead lives of quiet desperation, content to maintain their secret to ward off the alienation that they are sure would come from the more narrowminded family, friends, and strangers. Instead you chose to enlighten – because you honestly and truly do not want this to happen to someone else. And even though it does – because of you and your efforts – there are many women and men that this is not happening to – of all races and backgrounds and from all social structures. God chooses what we go through….but we choose how we go through it. Thank you for your light. God bless and keep you.

    -disregard the insecure and uninformed ramblings of some of the respondents here. There are far more people who admire your courage and appreciate and applaud your efforts.

    a concerned Dad

  91. Ray says:

    Who knows what a last sex to have …before becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. We all need to have that behind our mind right before engage in sexual act! This may be the last before the last! What a prophecy!

    HIV causing AIDS is real and the young and the restless are having non of it. They want to do what they want to do. It’s unfortunate that millions more young, old and even meical practitioners “WILL”

    We don’t need to glorified sex as we do in the west and misleading youngs and old believing that it’s ok tom engage in such act without consequencies.

  92. Ray says:

    Who knows what a last sex to have …before becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. We all need to have that behind our mind right before engage in sexual act! This may be the last before the last! What a prophecy!

    HIV causing AIDS is real and the young and the restless are having none of it. They want to do what they want to do and right NOW. It’s unfortunate that millions more the young’s, the olds and even most unfortunate medical practitioners that seems to know “WILL” contracted HIV/AIDS today! What is the powerful LURE behind it all???

    The spirit of defiant, self denial are the leading cause of many pains and suffering we all faced. We all have the capacity recognize right and wrong, but often weaken it for momentary enjoyment. To every action, there’s a reaction. If you cannot wait to engage in sex, get married and stay married, if you are too young to marry, stay away from sex and Hollywood promoting promiscuity.

    We don’t need to glorified sex acts as we do in the WEST and misleading young’s and old and feeble believing that it’s ok to engage in such acts without consequences for good or bad.

  93. Vibrant says:

    Setting it straight:
    I am not judging Marvelyn- she is young, was really a teen when she was infected and I do commend her for the work she is doing. However, the truth is the truth. Yes, whites are as promiscuious as black – we live in a promiscuous society. But the issue we are discussing now is African Americans. We continue to make excuses- the man who infected Marvelyn KNEW his status- and he deliberately did not use a condom and deliberately infected her. But then we say-well if the black community wasn’t so homophobic- maybe it would not have happened. Protect the black man no matter how many wrongs he does to the black women. (it’s part of the culture). Marvelyn’s infection could have been prevented but since he chose to deliberately infect her- I pray that God will keep her healthy.

  94. Vibrant says:

    Thank you Ray for your message! The Truth.

  95. srgentry says:

    I’m proud to see an African American woman such as Marvelyn Brown strive to become successful through her condition. To no offense, her family was very cruel to make her use plastic intensils or treat her like an outcast. I’m only 19, but I know that to catch AIDs is by: having unprotected sex, drinking gallons of saliva, or by blood. However when blood is exposed to air for a while the virus dies so why would people act they would catch the disease by being around her. Ms. Brown is indeed a positive person because she acknowledges what she did was wrong and is trying to educate other people to not follow her path. People need to understand that AIDs is a condition not a lifestyle.

  96. Shegentry says:

    I’m proud to see an African American woman such as Marvleyn Brown striving to become successful through her conditions. To no offense her family was very cruel to make her use plastic intensils or to treat her like an outsider. I’m only 19, but i know that to catch Aids is by: unprotected sex, drinking gallons of saliva,or by contact of blood. However, when blood is exposed to air for a while the virus dies. Ms. Brown is indeed a positive person because she acknowledges what she did was wrong and she is trying to educate other people to not follow her path. People need to understand that Aids is a condition not a lifestyle.

  97. Sandra says:

    God bless you and your work, Marvelyn. Get that message out and keep your head held high.

  98. JOCELYN says:

    The story must be told over and over again. This information is critical for middle and high schoolers who are at risk of having sex early. The book is an easy read. Thanks for sharing your story and I wish the author much success.

  99. Jill says:

    OUTSTANDING!!
    Keep your faith strong in knowing that you are Rocking the World with strong, truthful and very important information!

  100. Dr Daoud says:

    You either get busy living or get busy dying. For such a beautiful girl I am happy she chose life and is using her Fate to help others. She will live many, many years and will do great things. These posts/comments asserting otherwise so subhuman and bottomfeeding, those who posted them will get what is coming them once the roll is called up yonder, so to speak. She is the epitome of the Christian ideal. I pray she keeps up with her cause and I feel she will touch many.

  101. White and HIV Positive says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for sharing your story Marvelyn. I have to jump in and say specifically TO: VIBRANT

    It is NOT true that black women have HIV because of promiscuity and having kids by different fathers and so forth. I am white and have HIV. I used to work as an RN in a private practice but I have since retired. I can assure you that white women and white men are EQUALLY developing HIV in their communities as well. NOBODY talks about it, they control a lot of the outlets and media enterprises, most Americans of ethnic decent…do not. I have 2 friends that are both white, one has HIV and the other has AIDS. Both were infected by another Caucasian American.

    Have you not noticed that 31% of Black Men are dating white, European, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Chinese, and all other races including black? Yet the claims are that Black Men are infecting black women. So shouldn’t the ratio for infections amongst other races of women increase, if we are looking at Black Men as one of the most infected groups in the US that are infecting black females?

    It simply baffles me why it is that everyone wants to be so quick to point out that black women are getting HIV faster than any other group, yet they contend they are getting HIV from black men. But failed to present data from other females of ethnicity or Caucasian backgrounds, to determine their incidences of HIV/AIDS cases.

    I am a white American, and black females are getting HIV, but so are white females, and various other races of women.

    Please stop muddying up the images of your own race and that of Black Women by associating them with HIV/AIDS. It is a disgrace in itself to be mauled by such shameful and unsubstantiated remarks.

    I have seen many races of people with HIV/AIDS, I worked in a clinic and then private practices for 39 years. Let me assure anyone that reads this……. white female are also being infected at alarming rates!

  102. Young Kim says:

    A beautiful young lady, a beautiful story, thanks CNN!

  103. Jeff says:

    I can’t believe the number of people who still think HIV/AIDS is only transmitted sexually…

  104. lee says:

    let declare a day for scientitics research on HIV and how it affected our community. why only black people are been affected with this desease ?

  105. Fernando says:

    To everyone who made a negative comment I wonder if you would be willing to admit and go on record stating if you have had any promiscuous relationships in your entire life or were did your come into the world with the gift of immaculate conception. At least lust is closer to love than hypocrisy . I’m in agreement with all the positive sentiments .

  106. Fernando says:

    To everyone who made a negative comment I wonder if you would be willing to admit and go on record stating if you have had any promiscuous relationships in your entire life or did your come into the world with the gift of immaculate conception. At least lust is closer to love than hypocrisy . I’m in agreement with all the positive sentiments .

  107. tman says:

    Black aids day? If there were to be a “white aids day” wouldn’t there be an uproar of people calling it wrong? Why don’t we just concentrate on “Aids day” and not worry about what color the people that are inflicted with this disease are. Seriously “black aids day” give me a break people.

  108. roxy says:

    Eventhough she had a rough childhood and something bad happen to her and she was alone, it’s really good that she is helping out others with her situation. I think many people need to be aware of HIV and need to know how important it is to stay safe and to protect themselves. Everything you do leaves a footprint for the past and the present and its good that she is helping people with her story. I’m sure she has helped a lot of people. It’s even great that she wrote a book and it shows that she wants to help others with there future.

  109. Karen says:

    Marvelyn stay strong. You really inspired me after I read your book. It is important to pratice safer safe because you never know. Thanks

  110. Juanita says:

    Your A Very Strong Women!
    Stay Strong! Your A Super Hero! (:
    God Bless You!

  111. Allyne says:

    Nothing displays the urgent need for REASON to triumph over faith than reading disturbing comments from individuals supposedly endowed with the wondrous organ known as the human brain. I am addressing Vibrant’s comments and the disturbingly common view that this person represents:
    1. HIV is God’s punishment for “sins” &
    2. HIV is a consequence — for the perceived sexuality of Black women– for their “sinful” behavior(note that this only ever applies to Black women or the imagined Black Jezebel) &
    3. The overall need to turn an epidemic into a race issue.

    The line of reasoning that Vibrant represents, and of the religious faithful at large, is that the HIV disease is an act of vengeance from a wrathful god and its incursion is duly deserved and justified for not adhering to any religion’s nefarious desire to control lifestyles as a pathway to complete and absolute global domination. And it is this religious reasoning that creates the context where we waste time debating whether or not to provide life-saving aid to countries like Africa that may or may not provide contraception and sex education to its citizens….that debate kills people….in the name of Jesus. It’s completely stupefying.

    HIV affects people from all races & classifications; it adheres to no color lines, no class boundaries, and no supposed alternative lifestyles; the majority of people who are infected do not know that they are infected, because they have not been tested or it has not yet materialized to be detected.

    Vibrant/ Uncle Rukus…give me a break.

    ——-> I was raised Catholic

  112. Being Good for Goodness Sake says:

    First off, I want to say that Allyne’s comment is right on the money. Its always good to see posts by people with some sense about them. And for the most part, the comments here are appropriate – commending this woman for being brave enough to put herself out there for everyone to see just so that she can help others. She is saving lives.

    I think the focus by a lot of people here on race is missing the point. People of all genders, ethnicities, ages, etc. are affected by HIV – either directly because they’ve been infected or indirectly because someone they care for has been infected. Still others can relate to these stories by knowing that this could just as easily have happened to them. HIV is not a concern only for the promiscuous, the drug-users, the homosexuals – its a global issue.

    More than anyone Marvelyn knows that mistakes in judgment are easily made in youth. To the people that are clapping themselves on the back for not making these mistakes, do you think that makes you better than her? Do you think a kid that beat Albert Einstein on a math test in high school is the more intelligent of the two? The point I’m making is that decisions made in youth are not what defines you. It’s the choices you make as an adult. From a glance I can say with a fair degree of certainty that Marvelyn Brown is a far better person than people like “Alex”, “Vibrant” and “Jeff Colclasure” who seem pretty narrow minded and apparently assume the worst of people.

    I have one thing to say to all the people who are down on this woman: She found out she was HIV positive. That cannot be changed. Do you think that should have defined her for the rest of her life? It’s your attitude that makes people who contract HIV hide it from everyone because according to your line of thought, once you’ve contracted this disease you are an HIV positive harlot (regardless of how you contracted it) for the rest of your life and any decisions made afterward are overshadowed by the one decision that got you sick. That line of thinking if flawed and ignorant and it leads me to believe that if you were put in Marvelyn’s position you would not act as honorably. The point is, that she could have been just another HIV victim, but she made the hardest decision before her in the wake of her tragedy, not the easiest one. She could help prevent hundreds of young women from making the same mistake that she did and by encouraging her behavior, we encourage others in her situation to follow her lead. Now think of that – hundreds of Marvelyns saving thousands of lives. That’s what this whole Young People Who Rock is all about.

  113. Zia says:

    I appreciate people who are willing to share their story to the world, so that they can help others !!!! While in that moment some people don’t realize that the five seconds your goin to take to put on a condom might save your life.

  114. Obinna obike says:

    I think you should keep on doing what you’re doing. I will try to read the book

  115. Obinna obike says:

    I know that people make big mistakes in life. Just like marvelyn brown had made a mistake in life. I also know that just because you’re different that you shouldn’t be treated differently. I also think that not only black people get aids but people of all races get hiv and aids. Maybe if she had put condoms on maybe she could have not aids. OR she could just not have sex at all.

  116. Kitsonia says:

    Your say brave to do and say all that. In i feel like I can look up to you and that your book was so wonderful. It feel my heart up with joy

  117. Hadassah says:

    Alex- you just better be careful about what you say!

  118. brandi says:

    hey stupid people she didn’t get hiv from being promiscuous. she’s said before that was the first time she had sex. there different ways you can get hiv. shocking right?

  119. Ressie says:

    Marvelyn I really appreciate you sharing your story, even though you really didn’t have to be so open about your life, but i respect you for that.

    I have a childhood friend who really doesn’t know that I know she has Aids, not HIV, but Aids. I also recently found out that she is sleeping with men unprotected purposely. She feels no one cared enough about her feelings to tell her that they had a virus, so she feels she shouldn’t care about their feelings either, and cause of this, my female cousin, and her boyfriend maybe infected with the virus, because my childhood friend slept with my cousin’s boyfriend, and he didn’t know they knew each other……………………

    Word of Advice to everyone, live your life right. There is no need to move so fast because your peers think its cool……. If your going to be intimate with the opposite sex, or the same sex, stay protected, and at least advise your partner for you all to take a HIV TEST.

  120. kimmy dexter says:

    i read this book i just got done reading it today it was a very good book. she went threw alot at 19 with no one but her self and god i am so glad she came with a book so everyone can read about hiv so many people say not me not me not me some of my friends still think that way and were all 29 or 30 so i thank her very much for sharing her story with us all…keep up the good work gurl i am proud

  121. monica says:

    this is educational to those who stereotype people with AIDS/HIV without thinking. whatever the case, the reality is that if you are an intravenous drug user and sleep around without protection, whether you are homosexual, heterosexual or sleep with monkeys, your risk for AIDS/HIV is greater. not only are you throwing yourself under the bus, but you are putting your future children at risk.

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