“I didn’t know a single person living with HIV until the day when I knew exactly one. Me.
My knowledge and understanding of HIV was basically zero, and what I did know was just death, death, death. The doctor told me that the amount of virus in my system was extremely high and my immune system was practically non-existent. I’d likely been living with HIV for years unaware, he said. To me, these words sounded like my own death sentence, at the age of 26.
It wasn’t until I got in to see my specialist at St. Michael’s that I truly understood how far HIV treatment has come. I take a pill every day or an injection every other month. And that’s it. I could not only live with HIV, I could live a very normal life.
Really, it’s the social and psychological aspects of the disease — the stigma, the anxiety — that have been the hardest parts. Working through those, opening up about my diagnosis, and getting involved in outreach and advocacy have been transformative for me in ways I hadn’t known I’d needed.
“…if we educate ourselves and work toward equity, Canadians with HIV can live healthy, normal lives.”
There’s so much misinformation out there and I’m privileged to be part of the effort to correct it. We’ve lost over 33 million people to HIV and it’s important that we remember them. So many of these people were fighters for justice and recognition at a time when fighting wasn’t easy, and it’s thanks to them that people like me are able to live, and live well. It’s also important that we recognize that this isn’t just a queer person’s disease — it can affect anyone. And, unfortunately, access to care isn’t equal across Canada, especially in remote and Indigenous communities. But, if we educate ourselves and work toward equity, Canadians with HIV can live healthy, normal lives.
Today, I’m living my dreams, with a successful business, a wonderful partner, two cute dogs, and a potent platform both online and on TV, allowing me to speak difficult truths and flip the script on the stigma and misunderstanding of HIV.
I can honestly say that, before my diagnosis, I wasn’t on a path to achieve the things I wanted out of life. My HIV diagnosis, though one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, empowered me to reclaim and reinvent my life.”