Columbus organizers hold Aids candlelight memorial - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus organizers hold Aids candlelight memorial

Jeremy Hobbs, CVBWF Founder & Chairman Jeremy Hobbs, CVBWF Founder & Chairman

By Roslyn Giles

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The first cases of Aids in the United States were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 30 years ago.  Thousands of people around the world will participate in the 28th International Aids Candlelight Memorial Sunday, May 15th.  So far, 500 community organizers in 75 countries have registered to hold a vigil.

In Columbus, The Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation is hosting a ceremony Sunday at the Government Center, plaza level, from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  "The purpose of the memorial is to remember those who have lost their lives to Aids, support those living with HIV and to spur a call to action for greater awareness," said Jeremy Hobbs, CVBWF Founder & Chairman.

The theme "Touching Lives" speaks to how HIV has touched the lives of many people.  Currently, more than 1600 people are suffering with the incurable illness in Columbus. The number climbs to 35,000 throughout the state of Georgia.  

"Conditions have gotten better over the years, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done.  For example, people need to be educated on how they can and cannot contract the virus.  It's not transmitted just by shaking another person's hand, or drinking behind them or even hugging them," explained Hobbs.

Hobbs was diagnosed in 2003. "I collapsed standing in a Subway restaurant and people thought I was drunk.  But I knew I had not been drinking.  I was dealing with colds, flu-like symptoms and I remember saying to myself,' something is wrong'." 

After learning the startling news, Hobbs said that was his "freak out year."  He managed to get it together and became inspired to help others facing the same health crisis.  CVBWF was born in 2007.   "The City of Columbus has become more responsive to our needs.  Several city leaders, Former Mayor Jim Wetherington and now Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Sheriff John Darr all show a great deal of support."

Hobbs says he's thankful to be battling the HIV virus during this era and not decades ago now that medical advancements have decreased the number of pills patients take daily to just one a day.  "Years ago we had to take handfuls of pills several times a day."

Hobbs, a Columbus native, said he contracted Aids by sharing a needle to inject drugs into his system.  "I was living in Atlanta.   Drugs were everywhere, house parties, nightclubs and I always said ‘no'.  I was dealing with my sexuality and I fell into depression and said ‘yes'."

That one moment changed Hobbs' life forever.  But, now he is spending his time helping others learn how to live, walk and talk Aids.

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