How has HIV affected your life and what motivated you to become an advocate?
As a person who has lived with HIV since I was 21 years old (1993), its affect on my life has been profound. At the time of my diagnosis I was told I had 5 years to live. Having to face my mortality early in life and having experienced the physical decline of health into AIDS before effective Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) was available, I feel so grateful that I'm healthy and alive. In a moment of deep reflection I contemplated life and it's meaning to me, concluding that if every thought and action lived going forward was an expression of love given and received then for however long I was to be alive it would be made up loving moments. I would have lived a loving life. For me HIV has brought such a profound connection to my and others loving humanity. I am an advocate for a humanity that is loving towards each other.
What would an HIV cure mean to you and to your community?
A cure to HIV would mean the deepest fulfilment of humanity's endeavour to love and care for one another. It would mean that fear and stigma of HIV had been defeated, and the untouchables could again be held embraced and loved fully again.
What scientific and community engagement work excites you most about the DARE Collaboratory?
There a two big joys for me coming from the engagement of science and community through the DARE Collaboratory. One is it's so cool meeting with, getting to know and learning together with scientists and other community activists, the people in this space are inspiring, dedicated, altruistic, benevolent and kind. Secondly we get to work in the domain of discovering knowledge, which although messy and uncertain in the middle is simultaneously creating hope, and where there is hope there is life and love. I get to share knowledge, hope and love with my community.