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)

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).

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

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

A report on food security in Sooke reveals that nearly 15 per cent of people in Sooke have trouble getting food on the table. (The Canadian Press)
Food security a growing challenge in Sooke

‘This isn’t going to get any better if we don’t do anything about it’

A health-care worker takes part in HeArt Therapy session conducted by Shirley artist Sheila Thomas. (Contributed - Lorrie Beauchamp)
A creative ‘thanks’ to Vancouver Island’s essential workers

Artist Sheila Thomas creates therapy art session for workers on pandemic’s frontlines

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

Most Read