Positive Impact Health Centers celebrates 30 years of fighting HIV in Atlanta with a community celebration on Nov. 10 and a fundraising campaign to help the agency continue to fight against the epidemic.
The 30-year campaign hits home for former PIHC clients like Brent Jones.
“Positive Impact Health Centers was there for me in probably the darkest days of my life,” Jones told Project Q Atlanta.
At one time, Jones lived a hard-partying life in Midtown. He developed a crystal meth addiction, contracted HIV, lost his job and his home. In 2017, he spent two months in jail on “some pretty serious charges,” he said.
“The day I got released from jail, I walked into Positive Impact Health Centers and my life changed from then on,” he added.
PIHC helped Jones face his HIV diagnosis and connected him with behavioral health, counseling and addiction services. He went to the agency every day for a year as part of an intensive outpatient program.
“I learned life skills, emotional maturity skills and anger management skills,” he said. “They helped me stay sober. I had a world class treatment team. They showed me what work I needed to do and helped me in my recovery journey. It truly saved my life.”
Jones finished the recovery program and got his HIV status under control. He then started working for the agency as an outreach and engagement coordinator and is now the program manager for the outpatient program.
“The program that saved my life is now the program I’m responsible for managing,” he said. “Every day, I wake up so full of joy and happiness and I work with amazing people that saved my life.”
Reaching more people
PIHC has grown exponentially since opening in 1991. In 2020, the agency enrolled over 4,000 patients in care, conducted nearly 14,000 medical visits, administered nearly 4,000 food cards and coordinated over 2,700 medical transportation trips.
“Looking back over the years, we’ve had numerous achievements and painful setbacks. We also remember those we lost,” PIHC president and CEO Larry Lehman told Project Q.
“I am very grateful for the support of so many volunteers, donors, staff, board members and colleagues to make a difference in PIHC’s fight to end AIDS.”
Ever adapting and expanding to meet client needs, the agency redesigned its services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It received a $2.6 million federal grant last month to launch an opioid abuse treatment program. PIHC also recently threatened to cut ties with the City of Atlanta, alleging years of mismanagement of its HIV housing program.
To celebrate its latest milestone, PIHC hosts a community celebration of its Duluth location on Nov. 10 from 1-3 p.m. Organizers plan food, drinks and a tour of the facility including the oral health, nutrition and substance abuse center.
With 30 years under its belt, the agency is also in the middle of a fundraising campaign with a goal of $30,000. The funds would help PIHC include an additional 10,000 patients in future prevention and care services, Lehman said.
“Our community has thousands of individuals out of care,” he said. “Raising funds and increasing support is critical to bringing those individuals into care and reducing community viral load.”
And all donations are “money well spent,” according to Jones.
“Every dollar that they receive is used to make a difference in people’s lives like you wouldn’t believe,” Jones said.
Visit Positive Impact Health Centers online. The 30th Anniversary Community Celebration takes place Nov. 10 from 1-3 p.m. in Duluth. PIHC will also livestream the program on its social media platforms.