COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Every hour in the United States, 50 young women are newly infected with the AIDS virus, according to U.N. AIDS' national report. About 32.5 million people around the world are living with HIV, and only 9.7 million of these people have access to treatment.
Despite the national numbers, the Better Way Foundation of Columbus said people are better off now than they were years ago.
"We have been helping over 16,000 people locally living with HIV and AIDS," Jeremy Hobbs, the founder of the Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation explained. "We are helping pave better way for them."
The Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation aims to help people suffering with AIDS and HIV by providing education, support and training to make sure these patients can live long, healthy lives.
"there are so many education that goes into this life," Hobbs added. "I've been living with AIDS for 10 years. I was diagnosed April of 2003. So I'm motivated to help others who need guidance."
Jeremy Hobbs said Columbus, Georgia had trouble accepting people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. 10 years ago, some people even refused to shake Hobbs' hands because he was diagnosed with the infection. However, CVBWF held their 5th annual World AIDS Banquet in the government center in downtown Columbus.
Reverend Emily Bel from Forgiving Heart Church explained that she lost her brother to AIDS in 1987, and she is amazed to see how far Columbus has come.
"My brother passed away in New Orleans," Rev. Bel explained. "AIDS had caused holes in his lungs. He lived three years after he was diagnosed with it. Now, you see people like Jeremy Hobbs living for 10 years with it…it are all about medication, how well you're taking care of your body. People need to get tested. Ignorance is not bliss."
Jeremy Hobbs explained that 20% of local people tested for HIV and AIDS did not know that they had it. Free HIV testing was offered at the banquet, and Jeremy continues to encourage everyone to get tested.
"Finding out that I had aids changed my life," Hobbs said. "It might have even made my life better, because I can pave better paths for others who are struggling with HIV and AIDS. It has also made me realize poor choices I have made in life. I did drugs, I practiced unhealthy lifestyle before I was diagnosed with aids."
Hobbs hopes that his testimony will help prevent people from making poor choices like he did 10 years ago.
The Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation is located on 22337 14th Street in Columbus, Georgia.