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 Nashvillians: activist/blogger/O&AN consultant Josh Robbins and Nashville CARES medical case managers Bryant Bergeron and Tony Carlew.
“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.”
Medical Case Manager
Positive since 2001
Bryant Bergeron discovered he was HIV positive shortly after leaving the military in 2001. For the next few years, he struggled with his diagnosis and drug addiction. Bryant is now a medical case manager at Nashville CARES and uses his personal experiences in his work with other people living with HIV. He interacts with clients on a holistic level, looking at both internal and external struggles to determine the best course of action. Bryant has also facilitated a monthly support group for HIV-positive gay men, helped at HIV testing events and fundraising events and has been a member of a planning group for agency events and outings. He embodies the belief that blurring the line between “provider” and “consumer” improves the quality of services at Nashville CARES.
Medical Case Manager
Positive since 2005
Tony Carlew found out he was HIV positive shortly after joining Nashville CARES in 2005. As a medical case manager, he provides HIV education and support and infuses his work with a tremendous understanding of and empathy for the fears, concerns and challenges faced by his clients. As part of CARES’ system of deploying staff throughout the community to increase the visibility of services, Tony visits the HIV Wellness Center at Meharry Medical College weekly to connect with staff and clients. He is also a singer-songwriter and is donating a portion of sales from two newly released singles from his self-titled record, Who Is Tony Carlew?, to the Nashville CARES AIDS Walk and UNAIDS.
Activist and Blogger
Positive since 2012
Josh Robbins deftly uses social media (you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and more) to bring a face to HIV and show the realities of living with the virus. Before his diagnosis, Josh was raising awareness about HIV in the LGBT community and fundraising for the AIDS service organization Nashville CARES. He was also a volunteer for HVTN 505, a clinical vaccine trial. After he learned he was HIV positive, Josh created his website, Imstilljosh.com, which aims to help those living with the virus become advocates for themselves and others and be a voice against stigma. His simple motto—“I’m Still Josh. You Still Be You!”—offers encouragement and inspiration to those recently diagnosed with HIV.
Go to poz.com/100 to see this year’s full list.