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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: Speaking Up; Ex 'Idol' Contestant Talks About HIV Battle on 'Voice'
Sean Daly
February 15, 2012
New York Post (02.08.12) - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

While auditioning for seasons eight and nine of "American Idol," Jamar Rogers of the Bronx worried that his HIV-positive status would somehow come to light. "I remember being completely petrified throughout the entire process that the producers would find out," said the food bank volunteer. "I just lived with this massive cloud over my head." But when he recently auditioned for another singing show, NBC's "The Voice," Rogers decided to share his condition with nearly 20 million viewers. "As hard as I was trying to become this superstar, I felt like I had this obligation to give back to my community - to let people know that there is hope," he said.

Rogers said he became infected while living in Atlanta and battling an addiction to crystal meth. "I had been using pretty hardcore for about five years," he recalled. "I had gotten down to 125 pounds." Moving to Milwaukee, finding work, and joining a local church helped put Rogers on a better life path. "I decided to come clean because, at some point, you have to decide that you want to live for something greater than yourself," he said, adding that a young friend's overdose death last year motivated him to speak publicly about his struggles. HIV "is manageable," he said. "I have now been undetectable for five years. I don't even get a cold. That is strictly by the grace of God."