Chewee's Story:


"Many of us living with HIV experience challenges in various parts of our lives.  Some of us deal with severe health issues, some with relationship issues and then there are those of us who use to struggle with spiritual issues that can lead to a breakdown of our spirit and our desire to live a full, happy life."


Chewee Hughley speaks from personal experience, as he was one of these persons.  Having dealt with being HIV-positive since 1992, battling addiction and having contact with the legal system as a result of bad choices, he has overcome many obstacles and become stronger due to his determination and belief in a 'power greater than himself.'  Chewee credits this change in outlook due to his involvement with TIHAN. 


When he was first introduced to TIHAN in 2000, Chewee was not really interested in being social and had little contact with the agency.  After meeting people who were involved in TIHAN and being encouraged to volunteer, he was still on the fringes because he had a secret that he wanted to keep well hidden...


But his secret was suspected:  he was using illegal drugs and was slipping into despair.   TIHAN's Director of CarePartner Support was aware of Chewee's struggles, and called to address it with a loving concern and a strong--but firm--resolve.  Chewee heard the stern, loving kindness in her voice and began the journey to get help to turn around his life. 


Now, Chewee speaks publicly about his gratitude to TIHAN for being an organization that ministers to the body, mind, soul, and spirit.  He speaks from personal experience about how TIHAN volunteers live out the mission to

"offer our hearts and hands to provide compassionate and non-judgmental service to those affected by HIV/AIDS.  Through education and support, we-as individuals and faith communities -work to build bridges, reduce stigma and sustain hope."


It was that non-judgmental, compassionate concern and love shown to Chewee that helped strengthen his resolve to turn his life around.  Today, Chewee volunteers tirelessly with the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network and the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.  Chewee is also a volunteer DJ at KXCI 91.3 FM's " Light of the World" gospel program.   He has now recommitted himself to his ministry with love and compassion for those who are seen to be on the margins of society.  He has been led to a ministry of "radical inclusivity" and is envisioning creation of a new church, Church of Our Faith ~ Fellowship, to continue to carry that message.


As an outspoken advocate within--and for--the African American community, Chewee has made inroads to share the message with the secular and faith-based community about the importance of knowing your HIV status, and-if testing positive for HIV-to get support and get medical care.  Chewee wants to educate people of faith to move past judgment and to embrace inclusivity, eliminate stigma, and embrace those who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and to do so in a manner that exemplifies and honors God.   


"I am grateful for TIHAN's existence and I wish that more people knew about TIHAN and contributed to its powerful mission," Chewee said.  "There is a way to change the hearts, minds and spirits of those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS, and that is by offering love, compassion, and acceptance-and that is exactly what TIHAN does so well."


Chewee believes deeply that he would not be on this path of self-awareness, acceptance, and growth had it not been for the "stern, loving words of a TIHAN member who threatened to give me a swift kick in my 'blessed assurance' if I did not get it together and wake up to the full possibility of what I could be."