Hicks has never felt the need to hide her AIDS diagnosis and told her fellow church members and her pastor.

"They embrace me with it," she said. And Hicks's church has already started an HIV/AIDS testing and awareness ministry in Jacksonville.

While stigma persists in the community, it's getting better, she said.

She reported seeing growing HIV support groups, increasing turnout at community HIV/AIDS events and a recent line of people waiting to get tested at a mobile clinic.

"It shows me that people are willing to become more educated because HIV is prevalent and relevant."