HATTIESBURG, MS. - The Executive Director of the Aids Service Coalition (ASC) in Hattiesburg received FOX 23's Kindness in Action recognition this week. Kathy Garner has helped the homeless, HIV, and aids population for the last 30 years.
“I have always been passionate about helping the homeless, and I am also passionate about helping people with HIV because my family has been affected by it" said Garner.
She added, "I knew that when this organization needed an Executive Director, for lack of a better term, that was going to be my calling.”
Garner has worked with the ASC for 12 years. The Hattiesburg ASC is the only advocacy organization in South Mississippi.
She said, “HIV is no longer a death sentence." Garner continued, "And if you are in care you are able to live a long and wonderful life."
"It is becoming a chronic illness, and if you are tested positive, you can get on with your care, and you get on with your life" said Garner.
According to Garner Forrest County is consistently ranked number two in the state for new infections. She said the state's statistic on a national level is alarming.
“Mississippi as a whole, we are the highest or second back and forth with Florida for the rate of new infections for 13 to 24 year olds" Garner said.
Since 2005 Garner has informed the public on sex education and has helped provide access to healthcare.
Garner stated, “We started out as a very small organization that had a very specific scope. Since then we had been nimble, and we worked to meet those needs as we see them.”
She hopes one day her work in the Pine Belt can eradicate the disease.
“I hope that I am not having to do it. There has been so many new and innovative things that are happening with treatment, that hopefully one day I will not have a job" she said.
To learn more about ASC you can click here.