I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2004, and, according to my numbers, I should have died. During this time, I thought that there must be a reason why I was still here and I decided to stop focusing on HIV/AIDS being a death sentence and start focusing on how I could help others who are positive. Through my involvement with AIDS Athens, I was given the opportunity to do just that.
When Live Forward first approached me about being a peer counselor, I was hesitant at first because I had no training on HIV/AIDS or counseling, but through the guidance I received from Live Forward, I soon learned that my experience and dedication formed the foundation to learn the skills necessary to help others in my situation. Live Forward helped me realize that living with the disease gave me a unique perspective; after all, who better to talk to than someone who is also HIV-positive?
Over time, through my service as a peer counselor, I came to realize that this service is the reason that I am still here. I like to let other people who are HIV-positive know they are not alone and that there are people they can talk to and an organization that truly cares about them like Live Forward.
I do have one prejudice in life and that is towards ignorance. Knowledge will enable anyone to deal with what life presents to them. My mother often said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift – that is why they call it present.” I believe I am a survivor and I have found my purpose as a peer counselor.
Connie, AIDS Athens Client & Peer Counselor