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


This year, Phillis Beard was inducted into Sister Love’s 2020 Leadership Society. The 2020 Leading Women’s Society is a component of the Positive Women’s Leadership Project, which provides resources, training, education, mentoring, and support to increase the leadership capacity of HIV positive women to engage in community representation, prevention and support, policy and advocacy, and social change. The society is made up of HIV positive women who are nominated from within their communities, and who express a deep desire to become more active and vocal at a local, regional, and national level in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We are incredibly proud of Phillis. She has been educating and inspiring women to come forward in Northeast Georgia and to stay negative through safe sex and positive choices. The Live Forward staff were able to join Phillis at the Sister Love annual banquet to show our appreciation of all her advocacy in the field of HIV/AIDS.

“If I had condom sense, I wouldn’t be positive. It is ok to talk about condoms and to protect yourself from HIV and other sexual transmitted infections.”



Curtis, Peer Counselor
Live Forward has brought reality to a dim situation with love and acceptance. This staff are phenomenal and there to help us understand and be healthier.


My name is Rob. I became positive in 1993 and I’m still kicking its butt. I found Live Forward in 1998; I was on the verge of collapse, only had a few months to live, was about to lose everything I owned. Live Forward stepped in and helped me with housing and socially too. Because of the support, I became more involved by volunteering, became Mr. Fix It, helped other clients and was a board member too. Live Forward has become my surrogate family. And, I met my wife, Belinda, through Live Forward. Unfortunately, she passed this December and their out pour of support was amazing. I’m grateful to continue to receive housing and service and just be a part of this agency.

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over one million Americans are living with HIV / AIDS and 50% of those infected are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

  • Live Forward serves all 10 counties in the Northeast Health District (District 10) of Georgia. Our service area includes: Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Walton counties.