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Stephanie's Heroes: Christopher Barnett

July 16, 2012

One local man is helping to raise awareness about HIV and testing. Christopher Barnett is turning to his computer and logging on to social media to get the word out.

He said he knew he wanted to make a difference when he started volunteering at the Aids Services Group in Charlottesville.

"I just really loved working with the clients I really loved working with the staff and working with the volunteers and from there it just became second nature," Barnett said.

He eventually started working there as the HIV testing coordinator, planning events like National HIV testing day.

"It can be very stressful," Barnett said. "I definitely had to give someone reactive or positive results in the past before and for some people it can be very devastating."

Still, it's information Barnett says everyone needs to know.

"Well it's really to protect themselves and their partners if they are HIV positive and they don't know it's really important to find out so that they can get into medical care," said Barnett.

That's why he recently came up with a new social media campaign to reach even more people.

"Social media is where it's at today. Everything revolves around Facebook, Twitter, everyone has an account. It's just important to meet people where they are," said Barnett.

So far, he says the campaign has been successful, getting attention from people the group has never seen before.

Not only is Barnett promoting testing. He's also there to lend support even years after telling someone they're HIV positive.

"It's really amazing to see someone go from what they think is their rock bottom and watch them completely turn it around and become self-sufficient and then healthy and proud and able to stand on their own two feet," said Barnett.

For many, Barnett was and still is a part of that transformation, letting people know, that with the right medical help, there's still life after HIV.

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