Thank you for the Honor
First and Foremost, I wanted to thank all those who nominated and voted on honoring me with the 2009 Columbus Georgia Autherene Lee Person of the Year Award for my work with those living with HIV and AIDS and for my continued efforts to teach and enhance prevention methods here in the Chattahoochee Valley.
There are days that seem dreary, but then there are days like this that I feel emboldened with the spirit of life. People worry for me often and tell me "You're trying to do too much," but every time I hear another 16 or 19 year old has become infected or every time I hear another friend has died, I tighten my grip and try to push on harder than before.
But this is not, nor can it be, a one man show. We need everyone in our community involved. We need everyone on the same page. We need people to honor their pledges and obligations. Together, we are the solution.
But for a solution to ever be found, the HIV Community must stand up on its own two feet and join us in our fight. I am shall we say dismayed over the lack of participation from our own HIV Community. Literally people every where who are not HIV Positive, work tirelessly and give of themselves to help us live longer, healthier lives. But instead of standing up and joining the fight, we can continue to sit back and wait. You sit back in fear or shame and do nothing. What kind of life is that? No meaning, no purpose, no ambition, nothing. It's time to take charge of your lives and it's time to take charge of your disease. So many continue to sit back and wallow in self pity and/or fear and wonder why things never get any better. Well if you choose to continue the course as is, things will not improve. And that is a fact.
I along with many other agencies in Columbus have laid the ground work to assist you and help you through this crisis. All you have to do is rise up. Rise up to this opportunity. Rise up above the stigmas you face. But more importantly, Rise up above this disease and lend your helping hand to others in need.
It's time to close the book of excuses and reopen the book of life, and start living life again. You have AIDS. Nothing can ever change that. You can't hide from it, because all you're doing is hiding from yourself. Your voice and words can help ensure prevention efforts are working and you can bring comfort, love, and support to others just like you. Your lives will never get better or improve unless you start by being truthful to yourself, your family, your friends and everyone you know. Your absence has made AIDS a statistic, a race, a sexual orientation, a faceless disease. AIDS has many faces and every one is attached to a human life. This city has close to 1600 infected with HIV and the numbers continue to rise. Over 30,000 statewide and over 33 Million worldwide. That's a lot of faces with HIV and AIDS.
If you choose to continue the course without change, you're only headed for self destruction. No good can ever come from your silence. Be active in your treatment, attend support groups, and participate in stress management, exercise, and nutrition classes. You want to feel better? Then start doing something about it, now.
The Better Way Foundation has just launched a National HIV AIDS Online Support Network. www.LivingWithHIV.ning.com. If you're too scared to come forward, then I urge you to log on today. I want to see all members of this HIV community become a member and find out what help is out there, write in a daily journal, post and participate in events, and most importantly meet others living with HIV. They need to hear and learn from you as much as you need to hear and learn from them. Your rights to privacy are protected and you can use any name you choose. If you don't have a computer or email, then go to the library and set up a free Gmail account. Everything you need is already provided. No more excuses Columbus. It's time to start today, living a Better Way.
Jeremy S Hobbs
Chairman Better Way Foundation