Jonathan Heins was diagnosed with HIV in the early 80s and was unsure about what was next.
"The people with HIV worked on helping each other. It was a death sentence at that time," Heins said.
Heins was given just six months to live, but through the help of support groups and other outlets, he survived. From that moment on, he dedicated his own life to helping others by joining the Vermont People with AIDS Coalition. "We've kind of evolved into an organization that develops some empowerment in people to have them help themselves as much as possible," he said.
The coalition is funded by a grant from the Vermont Department of Health AIDS Program and donations. Its mission is to help people living with HIV or AIDS navigate the health care system. They also support World AIDS Day, an international effort to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic."We commemorate this World AIDS Day by trying to shout out that, no, it hasn't gone away and people still need our help. And to remember that we have lost loved ones," Heins said.
Last year the message was shared on Church Street. This year the PWA Coalition chose to gather right outside of the State House. The Coalition currently helps about 600 Vermonters who are living with HIV or AIDS, and this year they hope to spread the word about how people can help, while also breaking the stigma associated with AIDS and HIV. "We also want the citizens of Vermont to understand that we're real people," Heins said. "You don't have to have HIV to stand on the State House lawn and say, we care."
Heins has been attending World AIDS Day events since the late 1980's, when December 1 was originally dedicated as a day of remembrance. He says his biggest mission is to remember those lost and create awareness. "We really want people to remember how not to get HIV -- we want to prevent anybody else from being infected," he said.
The first step toward prevention is remembering those lost, and giving survivors access to a better life.
Friday, April 18 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:04:40 GMT
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road. Investigators say 63-year-old Eric Ladd was walking slipped and hitMore >>
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:00:59 GMT
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire. On Wednesday workers were doing spring clean-up at Wheelock park when they found a 55-gallon drumMore >>
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:58:40 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>