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Now 28 years old

 Rachael Leestamper knew her boyfriend had something to hide.

What, exactly, remained a mystery until Leestamper found herself pregnant five years ago.

"I was controlled. I couldn't talk to my mom. I couldn't talk to anybody or else I would get hit or locked in a room," Leestamper said, adding later: "When I was pregnant it really hit me. Every time I did blood work he wouldn't let me speak to anyone."

Doctors delivered the bad news: At 22 years old, Leestamper tested positive for HIV while she was pregnant.

"Am I going to be around long enough to be a mom?" Leestamper said, recalling the thoughts that raced through her head. "To raise him, to teach him things."

Thankfully, her son Quincy tested negative for the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

"My son saved my life," said Leestamper, who left her boyfriend and moved to the Rio Grande Valley.

Now 28 years old, Leestamper works with the Valley AIDS Council to educate people about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur every year among people aged 15 to 24. Hispanics contract syphilis and chlamydia at rates twice that of non-Hispanic whites.

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