For World AIDS Day 2015, we at VIDC quietly remembered our friends who have lost their lives to AIDS and those who are winning their battle with HIV. The whole day was quiet, a little solemn, but also mostly hopeful — our battle with HIV has come a long way in the past couple of decades.
This month’s Community Spotlight is again on Bradford McIntyre.
We want to join him in celebrating the life he was told should have ended within 6 months from November 28 — THIRTY YEARS AGO!
Brad, as you might remember from our September Community Spotlight, is a dear friend of VIDC. A number of our photos (for example, the ones from STRUT 2015 and RR4L 8, to name a few) were taken by him — if there is anything significant happening in the HIV community that we are a part of, we can bet that Brad is already there! Brad’s commitment to the work that he does for the HIV Positive community rivals even our own, and this post sheds some light on what motivates this passion.
This month’s spotlight is a bit different. Not only is it shone on someone we’ve already featured before, but it is also one where we will let the the person speak for himself.
There is no way anything written on VIDC Connect could be as impactful as reading his words for yourself.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some important updates from VIDC.
UBC iCON South Asian CPC
On November 28, 2015 the VIDC team held its third special CPC. VIDC Community Pop-Up Clinics are are constantly evolving to accommodating different communities that would benefit from point-of-care testing for either HIV, HCV, or both. This year we have done a CPC at the World Hepatitis Day Vancouver Event 2015 for attendees, one for the Chinese community at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Health Fair 2015, and now a one for the South Asian Community. Just like the first two events, VIDC provided point-of-care HCV Testing, FibroScan® Testing, and a specialist consult for those who test positive
As a medical and research clinic, VIDC is involved with a number of clinical trials — specifically trials in HIV and HCV. One of which is AMBER, an AbbVie clinical study focused on treating chronic hepatitis C infection for genotype 1. Consequently, the VIDC team — led by Dr. Brian Conway — successfully enrolled the very first patient for the study.
Clinical studies like these are a very integral part of the cascade of care we provide at VIDC. These studies allow us to further engage patients in care, and provide them access (when applicable) to treatment options that are only available through clinical studies.
Red Ribbons for Life (RR4L)
Red Ribbons for Life 8 last November 29 was a huge success! Community organizations and its supporters, local politicians, pharmaceutical company representatives, and amazing performers came together to help raise money and awareness for HIV.
And of course, VIDC was there to support the cause — and to listen to our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, give the keynote speech for the evening.
It was a lovely evening filled with music, laughter, and show-stopping performances shared with friends and family all present to support the fundraising efforts of RR4L.
This month’s community spotlight sheds light on an issue that’s worth celebrating yet heartbreaking. Bradford McIntyre — more commonly known as Brad to us at VIDC — is a friend of VIDC who has successfully outlived the 6-months-to-live diagnosis he was given in 1984.
“New research from the Canadian Observational Cohort Collaboration found the average life expectancy for HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral therapy is now 65. ” Vancouver Courier (19 Aug 2015)
This is great news! This means we are slowly but surely making great progress in our fight against HIV. However, this also spotlights a new issue: an aging HIV-positive population.
“McIntyre has been a longtime advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and started his website positivelypositive.ca in 2003 to share his story and the latest research. He has a good life and enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time at the beach. But he says aging with the virus comes with its own unique set of challenges. These include health, emotional, financial and social effects. ” Vancouver Courier
Because of the advancements in the field of HIV research, people who were expecting to die at a young age, are now given a new hope — a new hope with a new challenge. That means there is a growing population of more senior individuals living with HIV.
The challenge, however, is not just on the individuals who are now given a shot at a longer (and ideally, a more fruitful) life. Society, at large, is also faced with a new challenge. Because an aging HIV population is a fairly recent phenomenon, our society has yet to catch up with services and infrastructures — and especially the knowledge — to care for and support this growing population. Most importantly, the stigma and discrimination that comes with the virus, is ever so present.
This is the new reality that Brad — along with the rest of society — has to face. All the more reason for Brad to keep doing what he does!
As mentioned earlier, Brad has a blog called positivelypositive.ca where his primarily goal is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education.
“I receive thousands of emails from around the world,” says McIntyre. “Oftentimes there’s an individual that has just found out they’re positive and is thinking the worst. Then they find my website and see that I’ve lived all these years and I’m married and it gives them hope.” – -Vancouver Courier
Brad turned a death-sentence into a mission. His website provides information, resources, and — most importantly — hope. Resources like positivelypositive.ca are constant reminders that although stigma and discrimination that come with HIV is very real, there is hope of dispelling them through education and awareness.
It is because of amazing individuals like Brad that we are encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing. People like him remind us that there is hope, and that there are more and more people getting involved with promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, research, education, prevention, etc!
As promised, here are the photos and updates from when VIDC went out to STRUT our stuff down Sunset Beach last June 6 in support of Foundation of Hope’s (FOH) fundraising efforts for LGBTQ+ Refugees. It was a surreal experience to be part of this momentous event! The energy and the support from everyone who came out was simply overwhelming; although we don’t all fully understand the struggles of being an LGBTQ+ refugee, we all understood the importance of STRUT for them.
We got a good taste of the pain and the struggle of walking (even standing!) in heels! We got a full dose of what STRUT was all about — enduring a bit of pain to get an extremely minuscule glimpse of what LGBTQ+ refugees have to suffer.
That mile was the
L O N G E S T M I L E
our team has ever walked, especially since it was a first (walking in heels for THAT long) for a lot of us. The blisters and muscle pain we’re still feeling is a constant reminder of the privilege we have in a world that’s just all kinds of unfair.
VIDC is no stranger to working with marginalized, oppressed, and at-risk individuals, and still STRUT was quite surreal for us. It’s one thing to work closely with someone, it’s another to physically get a (very very small) taste of what they’re going through.
VIDC would very much like to thank Foundation of Hope for organizing this event and for giving us the privilege to be a part of it. We partnered with FOH and attended the event to engage the community and provide financial support to the cause; and yet it seems as though we got so much more than what we gave.
Don’t get the wrong idea though! It was a very meaningful event, but it was also FUN!
Check these photos out for proof!
We definitely got more than what we gave, thank you to everyone that came out and supported STRUT!