What first piqued your interest in the HIV/ hepatitis C sector?
My first eye opening experience with HIV was when I met a man who was living with AIDS. When I met him he was pretty healthy. He deteriorated within a few months and passed away very quickly. This was back when I was heavy in my addiction, and his story has always really stuck with me. I’ve also lost people very close to me from AIDS. So I didn’t go looking for HIV, it kind of found me. I also did contract hepatitis C from my ex-partner, so this is another thing drawing me to this work.
What role do you think HIV and hepatitis C research plays in the “real world”?
I look at research as helping us solve real world problems. It gives us the information we need to help us understand what needs to be done. If we didn’t have research we wouldn’t be able to come up with the solutions. So HIV and hepatitis C research that answers questions that the community wants to know helps us bring information back to community for them to use.
How do you engage the community in your work?
I do a lot of outreach work in the community in Prince George. When I go downtown I like to have snacks, food and other supplies. I’ve gotten a lot of requests for backpacks with harm reduction supplies. I’ve also started a Facebook page to let the public know what we’re doing, handing out supplies in the community, and to collect donations. I like being out in the community, out on the street talking to people and giving back what I can.
If you had unlimited funds, which areas of research would you invest in?
If I had unlimited funds, I would buy a big building and house everyone off the streets, I would have safe supply available for folks, and other services that they might need to be happy and healthy. Everyone would have their own space that they could call home. I would then research how this worked for everyone, so that other places could learn and do the same thing. I would really want to do something to help the homeless population.
If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
I would want to be able to cure everyone of addiction and mental health problems. I would want to help people be happy and healthy and not suffering.