Why I Am Speaking Out.....
From Founder and President Jeremy S Hobbs

In Georgia there are currently over 53,000 who suffer from HIV and AIDS and another 3000 infected each and every year.  Sadly, most of these individuals feel they have to go it alone due to the ignorance that society portrays. There are those who say "I take my med's so I am fine."  Wrong!  When you live with HIV and AIDS, you have to change every aspect of your life.

Muscogee County currently has over 2300 HIV cases.  Each one of these individuals live their life in secret and in the shadows, never seeking the mental and physical help that they need to liver better and healthier lives.  Our organization, working in partnership with District Clinical Services, New Horizons, The Mpower Project and The Community Outreach Project want to provide each of these individuals the tools they need to manage their lives better through informative lessons ranging from physical therapy, to relaxation therapy, nutrition, and most importantly offer a private setting where these individuals can come to without fear of ignorance from society. 

We want to encourage those with HIV and AIDS to stop living their lives in the shadows. The one thing that has been the most disturbing to me throughout my journey is the fact that so many people want to hide in the shadows and stay clear anything that is HIV related.  Some say that they do not want their life to be about HIV, and I say this to them, It Already Is.  We cannot go through life hiding who we are with our heads hung down in shame, because this is who we are, like it or not.  So, Wipe away any shame you may feel, because you have nothing to be ashamed of. 

Every life on this planet must endure trials and tribulations of some sort.  Mine along with 42 million others is living with HIV.  But what defines us as human beings is how we deal with these trials.  Do we go quietly into the night, hiding in the shadows and hoping someone else will stand up and speak out for the cure, and proper funding, and better humane treatment?  Or do we stand up and speak out so that our voices are counted and heard?  It is our life and we cannot expect someone else to fight our battles for us.  Each and every one of us has a stake in this battle.  Now we may not win the war, but we will have died with the honor of knowing we tried and we didn't hide.  That is the least we can do for the 28 million plus souls who have already died fighting the war on AIDS. 

We are the voices of our own salvation.  If we ever want a cure to be found, we must stand up and be heard.  If we want vaccine trials to continue, we must stand up and be heard.  If we want a National Strategy for AIDS in America and the proper funding needed to provide essential care, then we must stand up and be heard.   If we want a better health care system, if we want to be treated like human beings instead of monsters, then we must stand up and be heard.  Until our calls can be heard, AIDS will remain a very real problem with no solution.  
The cure will not come from our government or our elected officials or from scientists or even from the pharmaceutical companies.  The cure will come from us, the people who live everyday life with HIV and AIDS.  In our voices and our strength lies the cure.  We are the cure. 

I know it can be very frightening emerging from those shadows due to the crippling fear of ignorance, the fear of being treated differently or even the fear of being harmed.  But I tell you the power and promise of change can overcome any fear big or small. 

Our city needs an HIV Community Center that will help those who suffer from HIV/AIDS live a better, healthier life.  Our city still treats AIDS as a taboo subject.  That is why I have come forward about my illness.  To create awareness about the disease and work to stamp out the ignorance our society projects towards people who are already suffering.  Educate yourselves and speak out on behalf of HIV and AIDS.  Don’t let AIDS be a word filtered from your mind. 

Our souls yearn to shine but so many choose to restrain the will of their soul and keep it hidden in the shadows because they are afraid of the repercussions and problems that exist in society.  You tell someone you have cancer they are loving and caring and compassionate.  You tell someone you have AIDS and its whole different story.  Once you stand up and come forth, your eyes will see the Glory.  Only then can you see the truth with absolute certainty who is real and who is not.  Why should we have to live in misery just so others can be happy and content?  The truth of AIDS has away of bringing out the best in some, yet it also brings out the worse in others.  And those are the people you do not need in your lives anyway.  They will only hinder your soul and your happiness, which in turn will do nothing more than deteriorate your mental well-being and tear down your physical health.  

We must stand up and fight for our own cause.  We must fight to ensure our government and states provide adequate funding to meet the growing demand of HIV patients.  We must fight to lower the infection rates by demanding that our government adopt a national strategy to combat AIDS.  Inside each one of us is a piece of the cure.  But we cannot fight this war alone.  We need every voice, every foot.  Not just some.  Each ear we bend to tell about our life and the struggle we face each and every day is another voice we add to our own.  

I’m not asking for people to go and totally disrupt their entire way of life.  But I do know this.  Life cannot truly be fulfilling or even meaningful if we always live it in disguise.  We wear so many masks in life that we loose sight of who we really are.  We jeopardize our own identity and loose our mortality by denying to the world who we truly are.  We must ask ourselves who are we really hiding from?  Everyone else or are we just hiding from ourselves?

I am not saying that coming forth is going to make your life any easier.  I deal with the HIV issue with my family and friends all the time.  I've dealt with it in the workplace.  There is nothing easy about living with HIV.  HIV is one of the most defining diseases because it can either make you or break you.  I look out and see so many people who are broken down because of HIV and it just breaks my heart.  It hurts that the ignorance of society has made it so unbearable for people who are already suffering.  And that is why I am coming forward and speaking out not just for myself, but, for all my brothers and sisters who are living with HIV/AIDS.  I say to the people of Columbus and all areas surrounding, Tear down the walls of ignorance and tear down the walls of intolerance and open up your hearts and your minds and learn to love and care for all mankind, not just some.

Most people look at AIDS as a curse, I look at it as my wake up call.  I wasn't happy in my life at home or at work, simply because I wasn't doing what my heart was telling me to do.  My heart and my soul have led me to the journey I am on and my mission is to help those who suffer with HIV and AIDS live a better, healthier life.  My mission is to work and prevent simple-minded ignorance from endangering the welfare of the patient by promoting awareness throughout the community like tonight and educating the patient family and friends with facts, not fiction about the illness.  It’s also my mission to offer substance abuse alternatives for HIV patients with chemical addictions only to those who are ready to quit and start living a better life.  My mission is to work to create unity in our community through love, compassion, and understanding and create a safe environment for our patients by always offering an open door for those in need.  We are all God’s children and everyone of us deserves to be loved and treated well.    Everyone in life is told to live their dreams and be whatever they want to be.  But most cynics would say that would be impossible. And they would be right, because they never tried.  Don’t take a settlement on your dreams.  Go all the way!  Do not let people or family talk you out of doing what it is that you love.  It’s your life, and you are the one who has to live it.  Everyone can tell you what you should or shouldn't do, but when all is done, where are they and where are you?  What I am trying to say is that While it’s tempting to play it safe, the more we are willing to risk, the more alive we are.  In the end, what we regret the most are the chances we never took.  I hope this explains the journey and mission I am on to build unity, lower infection rates, educate against intolerance, and promote universal peace.      

I want to especially urge everyone that is positive, make the most of your lives and fulfill your dreams.  Always express yourselves and never be afraid to speak your mind.   Be what God made you to be!  Never give up on your pursuit of happiness and always help those who are in need.  When we finally stop tearing ourselves apart and start thinking with our hearts, only then will all be fed, all have beds and disease, be a thing of the past. For we have to always remember there is only one race that matters and that’s the human race.  IN ALL THINGS BE YOU!

I hope my words will give you the courage and strength you need to join me and the 42 million other people world-wide living with HIV and AIDS to shout out in one voice, We are the Cure!

Live Well and Be Blessed!

Jeremy Scott Hobbs
Chairman & Founder
The Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation, Inc.