CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A Murphysboro man hopes his attitude has helped save lives.
Tony Wyatt will walk alongside dozens of people in Carbondale's 18th annual AIDS Walk. 23 years ago, Wyatt was faced with shocking news, he was HIV positive. "I would be dead. I would have died in 1996, I wouldn't be here," Wyatt said.
"It was a difficult transition but I had to constantly you know just stay on top of," said Wyatt. "I have to take care myself. I have to be on it, knowledgeable about the medication, keep up with my doctor's appointment, and deal with depression as well."
Wyatt said despite the discrimination and stigmas he has always been open about his medical condition.
"It's been very difficult," Wyatt said. "But I have always been the type of person that I believe in helping others more so than myself."
He says he wants to share his story because HIV does not discriminate.
"Anyone, any face, if you have unprotected sex, could be living with the HIV virus. It doesn't have no color mass, it doesn't have no weight gain. Whether you look skinny or thick, it doesn't have a face to that."
Wyatt said the 18th annual AIDS walk Saturday will raise money and help people like him in the community.
Julie Robinson, one of the veteran organizers, agrees.
"I am a firm believer if you build up your community and it's better for everyone.This organization, in particular needs the community help, I believe," said Robinson.
And Wyatt hopes the community can offer emotional support as well.
"In a time that is so volatile, we need that compassion for others," said Wyatt. "That's the main one wish that if anything else didn't happen, have compassion for your fellow brethren"
The 18th Annual AIDS Walk will be held on Saturday, March 24 in Carbondale, Illinois at the SIUC Newman Center benefiting more than 150 families.
There will be free rapid HIV testing and a health fair at 10 a.m. in Carbondale.