Positive Impact marks 18 years of HIV support

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imageSeveral agencies in Atlanta help prevention efforts and fight the medical, legal and legislative impact of HIV/AIDS. One of them devotes itself primarily to the emotional impact that people living with the disease face when they are diagnosed and into their future: Positive Impact turns 18 on April 1. “When Positive Impact began, it was a piece of paper and an idea that people with HIV needed mental health support,” says Paul Plate, executive director of the agency. “Last year, we provided culturally competent mental health counseling, licensed intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment and risk-reduction services to over 5,000 people affected by HIV.” With Plate (photo) at its helm, Postive Impact served 135 clients in its first year. Last year, the 5,000 people served were attended by the agency’s three administrative staff members, 39 full and part-time counselors, as well as 45 volunteers and 14 masters-level interns. Together, they provided 7,000 hours of counseling assistance. imageThat’s how far the agency has come in less than two decades. But besides growing expanding office space, staff, clients and services, Plate says “we have learned a few things” along the way. “Our approach to risk-reduction is that safer sex is about more than a condom; it is about good mental health and self acceptance,” he says. “We know that with proper mental health support, people with HIV can and do grow and thrive, and we know that proper treatment for substance addiction can lead to a productive, fulfilled life.” Positive Impact also holds free HIV and STD testing hours six days a week, and in February, it celebrated the grand opening of its MISTER Center—Men’s Information Services Testing Empowerment Resources—a burgeoning resource center for gay and bisexual men, with an open house. Positive Impact also holds its annual Party with Impact on April 30 and the ARTvision fundraiser each holiday season. For his service Plate is one of the honorees at this year’s HRC Gala Dinner, set for May 14. “I’ve been honored to lead Positive Impact since the beginning,” he says. “I look forward to this agency continuing to serve the HIV affected in our community with integrity, dedication and honor.”

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