POZ magazine, a magazine for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, Utah AIDS Foundation volunteer Mike Weight as one of their fourth annual POZ 100.
Weight started volunteering as a receptionist at the Utah AIDS Foundation in 2012 and soon began volunteering in the food bank assisting others in making healthy food choices and bringing a smile to their faces. He eventually took full ownership of UAF’s vegetable garden, installing new trellises and a new watering system and getting involved in the planning and planting of all the new plants. He has participated in numerous fundraising events and provides HIV education to the youth involved with Salt Lake Early Intervention program as they perform community service in the food bank. His contribution to his community has changed the lives of many, and the fruits (and vegetables!) of his hard work will grow for years to come.
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. It comprises a variety of careers, from bloggers and activists to doctors and educators, and spans across many diverse populations affected by the virus.
“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.”
Go to poz.com/100 to see this year’s full list.