It’s incredible to realize that we’ve been fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic for more than 40 years now. I have been living with HIV since the middle of 1980 and am considered a long-term survivor — one of the lucky ones.
In the summer of 1995, while I was living with my then-partner in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the first human Crixivan trial was announced, and hope felt possible. I was among the tens of thousands of applicants for 1,400 places in that trial and received the only spot available in New Mexico. On November 1, 1995, I took my first-ever dose, which stopped the replication of my HIV. I had fewer than five T-cells and a viral load well north of one million copies. Without this incredibly good fortune, I would not be writing to you today.
I discovered the HIV Legal Network as an immigrant to Canada. One June 2013 evening in Toronto, the HIV Legal Network was premiering its documentary, “Positive Women, Exposing Injustice.” The film centered the stories of four women living with HIV in Canada and asked hard-hitting questions about how criminalization affects their lives. I’ll never forget the emotion I felt, sitting in that theatre, and the anger that stirred inside me. In fact, the film moved me so much that I promised to write a four-figure cheque when I returned home — a promise I kept. In 2014, I decided to extend my commitment to the critical work of the HIV Legal Network by introducing “Charlie’s Challenge” — a program named after my late father, wherein I match every donation to the Legal Network, dollar for dollar. Charlie’s Challenge has become a core part of the HIV Legal Network’s annual giving campaign. For the year 2022, I committed to match up to $50,000. This amount is consistent with my enthusiasm as a former HIV Legal Network Board member and long-term financial supporter for the critical work the HIV Legal Network does on behalf of Canada’s HIV+ population as well as on behalf of HIV+ people around the world, and I am so proud to be able to contribute in this way.
For almost 30 years, the HIV Legal Network has been advocating for people living with, and affected by, HIV — people like me. Their work is vital and must continue so that human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled for everyone, today and every day.
I have been living with HIV for more than 40 years. I’ve witnessed governments’ HIV responses stalling or even backsliding, and it frightens me. The truth is that we can end the HIV epidemic if we give it the attention and resources it urgently needs. The HIV Legal Network takes action to connect our community to decision-makers so we can get the funding and support we need, and that’s why I am boosting their efforts and doubling donations to make your dollars work even harder. The HIV Legal Network truly gives me hope. And I hope you’ll stand with us, too.