Dec. 1, 2018 – A red ribbon memorial candle display is placed at the legislature on Dec. 1 marking the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Victoria resident reflects on being diagnosed with HIV and cancer

World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 aims to break the stigma surrounding the disease

A Victoria resident found out they were both HIV positive and had cancer on the same day.

In 2015 Daniel Sands was homeless and often sleeping in Beacon Hill Park. Sands – who is two-spirited and prefers a they/them pronoun – said that for a long time they just felt like they had a flu that just wouldn’t go away, so when they got tested by a street nurse they were shocked to hear the results.

“I was devastated, it felt like a death sentence at the time,” they said for a project made with the federal government called Healthy Canadians.

What Sands didn’t know, however, was that just four years later they’d be in remission for cancer, and that their HIV would be untraceable thanks to modern medication.

ALSO READ: AVI’s new identity reflects AIDS as a chronic, manageable condition

“U=U, it’s kind of changed everything,” they said. “As long as I take my medication I’m going to live a long life, a long healthy life.”

The U=U campaign is put forward by the province and the Prevention Access Campaign; U=U stands for undetectable equals untrasmittable. Immediate treatment of HIV/AIDS means that a patient can live a normal life and can’t transmit the disease to someone else.

“Kind of destigmatizing myself and learning the actual medical facts about it really changed everything,” Sands said. “I have a chronic manageable illness just like someone with diabetes—take your medication every day and you’re good.”

Changing the stigma is something that World Aids Day on Dec. 1 aims to achieve.

“Stigma is still a huge issue for people living with HIV,” said Katrina Jensen, executive director of AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI), where Sands now works. “The more we can get education and awareness out, the more we can confront and end stigma in our community.”

This year in Victoria more stories from people like Sands are being shared across the city in the form of “We Are Here” Story Boards seen in Greater Victoria Public Libraries.

Additionally, on Dec. 1 there will be a candlelit ceremony at the steps of the BC Legislature to commemorate people who have died from the disease.

ALSO READ: Island women cycling 275 km to fight AIDS in Africa

Any donations put forward to AVI on World AIDS Day will go towards the organization’s Hot Lunch Program, which offers nutritious meals five days per week.

“People living with HIV are often living with compromised immune systems and they need high quality foods,” Jensen said. “But because many people are living in poverty, the rising costs of food make it really difficult for people living with HIV to access.”

In 2018 more than 8,000 meals were served through the program.

For more information on the event or the organization visit avi.org

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

 

Victoria resident Daniel Sands was diagnosed with HIV in 2015. Thanks to modern medication, the disease is now untraceable in their blood. (Screenshot/ Healthy Canadians).

Just Posted

Victoria resident catches, cleans pigeon feet to help fight stringfoot

Hair, string tangled around birds’ feet can cut off circulation to toes and whole feet

Cyclists rejoice as the Christmas Lights Parade returns

Family-friendly 10km ride visits big Christmas displays, Dec. 21

Victoria residents advocate for funding for neighbourhoods without community centres

North Park Neighbourhood Association hopes to see $75,000 to bolster nearby staff

Single dad reaches out to Greater Victoria community to help kids celebrate Christmas

A young family was overwhelmed with the warm response from strangers

VIDEO: These are the top toys this Christmas, B.C. toy experts say

Consider the play value of a game, staff at Toy Traders say

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Most Read