POZ magazine, an award-winning print and online brand for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, today announced the fourth annual POZ 100. This year, POZ asked individuals and organizations to nominate an HIV-positive person in their community who is an unsung hero in the fight against AIDS. For the first time, the list is made up completely of people living with the virus.
The list includes individuals of all ages, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations from across the United States and Puerto Rico, at organizations large and small—including three Atlantans: AID Atlanta’s Ed Doolittle, Daniel Driffin and Absolute CARES’ Freda Jones.
“The individuals on this year’s list may not consider themselves to be heroes, but we do,” said Oriol Gutierrez, POZ’s editor-in-chief. “Each person—in his or her own unique way—is taking a brave stand against the virus. They are fighting back. From people who volunteer for AIDS service organizations or work as policy advocates, to those who act as educators to promote prevention and treatment, this list represents an incredibly diverse spectrum of people living with HIV and making a difference on the front lines in their communities,” Gutierrez said.
The people spotlighted on this year’s POZ 100 will inspire readers with their passion to effect change in the world. By telling their stories, POZ hopes the public at large will better understand that the fight against HIV/AIDS continues.
“Because they are living with the virus themselves, these individuals have a unique understanding of what needs to be done and how best to do it,” Gutierrez continued. “They know what it’s like to be newly diagnosed and how it feels to deal with HIV-related stigma and discrimination. They understand the challenges of accessing care, treatment and support. By sharing their stories, they are not only inspiring others living with the virus but also empowering themselves and the entire HIV community.”
Ed Doolittle has volunteered his time and talent with several HIV/AIDS service organizations over the years. He currently serves as the development officer and website administrator for AIDS Atlanta. Ed has served the community by delivering meals and has helped raise funds for HIV housing through his office. He has also worked with various organizations to provide toys and school supplies for children who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Ed is a firm believer in harm reduction for HIV prevention, and he’s a big supporter of education and testing efforts.
Daniel Driffin has made an impact by helping lead and shape critical conversations about the lives of black gay men—especially those younger than 30. In 2009, he was selected as a recipient of the CRIBB Fellowship from NAESM (National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities). Daniel focuses on HIV prevention, and he has helped shape the HIV research agenda through his work as a project manger on the Think Twice: An MSM Serosorting Project with the Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) at the University of Connecticut. He has also facilitated numerous evidence-based interventions such as Many Men, Many Voices (3MV), d-up: Defend Yourself! and Mpowerment geared to young African-American men who have sex with men. Daniel serves as chair of the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative, a national movement of young black men addressing issues disproportionately affecting peers around HIV prevention, care and treatment.
When Freda Jones was diagnosed with HIV, she knew it was time to take a stand. The following year she began working at Aniz Inc, which focuses on women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Freda became certified as a pre/post test counselor and facilitated several programs such as Reaching Out to Sisters with HIV/AIDS and VOICES. In 2007, she became the first female PEER 2 PEER Adherence Counselor at AIDS Survival Project. Freda was featured in a faith-based HIV education video HIV/AIDS: Have We Forgotten? which was nominated for a Telly Award in 2009, and she recently participated in the nationwide “Greater Than AIDS” campaign. She is currently chair of the African American Outreach Initiative. This is one HIV-positive mother and grandmother who certainly knows how to take a stand.