HIV Stories

Dr. Roberts works primarily in the area of medically fragile children, and she strives to better understand their quality of life experiences and how to best support them in the education system. She is highly interested in qualitative research methodologies. Dr. Roberts works primarily with graduate students and those who wish to be teachers in schools. She is the co-author of three books: School Children with HIV/AIDS, Disclosing HIV/AIDS to Children, and Starting a Conversation: School Children with Congenital Heart Disease.
Dr. Keith Fowke is a CANFAR-funded researcher. He is cross appointed as a Professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Community Health Sciences and is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nairobi. Dr. Fowke has established a vital, active research laboratory consisting of a technician, graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, research fellows, B.Sc. (Med) and summer research students.
Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan is a Full Professor of Health Promotion and Head of the Health Promotion Division in the School of Health and Human Performance in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University. She has been involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy, activism and research for over two decades and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for excellence in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Four years later, I was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. I couldn’t understand how my life had changed so quickly in such a short time. The results were devastating to me. Even more devastating was what happened when I confronted my partner about being positive; he would not admit that he was and would not get tested.
I was fortunate enough to be one of (CANFAR’s) chosen researchers, with a $25,000 grant for my study on “Black Canadian Parent-Youth Communication on Sex and HIV”. Because of the CANFAR research grant, and the generous support of donors like you, I was able to complete this important study, and the results were surprising.
In the 1980s, my colleagues and I knew that something needed to be done to stop this new disease. It seemed like every day patients would become infected, and many were dying quickly. A large number of Canadians were focused on providing care for HIV-positive patients, while others were trying to raise awareness about this new virus that the world had yet to understand. This left us with research. Research can apply to almost every sector of the HIV world; how to educate people about HIV, how to prevent the spread of HIV, how to care for those who are infected, and how to treat the diseases that HIV produces.
I was 32 years old, a lawyer with a bright future ahead of me. And then, in a matter of minutes my doctor delivered news that changed my life forever: “You have less than two years to live.” I was certain that my future, which had burned so bright, was about to be extinguished.
Late in 2011 our 34 year old son John was beginning to lose his balance, stumbling more and more frequently and occasionally falling. Otherwise healthy and robust, he went through a series of tests and we were given the startling news that the doctors believed he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. The symptoms fit and while my wife Janet and I were upset and worried, we were assured that there were treatments that would help.