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World Aids Day, 35 Years Of Reflection

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Jim Kane reflects on 35 years of living with HIV

By Jim Kane

I have been living with HIV for 35 years now, and have been surviving the COVID-19 pandemic without contracting the virus so far. Since the new pandemic with COVID first surfaced, it reminded me of the times in the early 80’s when we went through many of the same challenges with vulnerable population groups.

The Aids virus, however, could remain asymptomatic in your body for up to ten years before a person would possibly know they have it. With COVID-19, it appears to become symptomatic in a few weeks. The Scientific Community was at a huge disadvantage with HIV Research as a result. There was a huge amount of Stigma the provided additional barriers.  At-risk groups were largely from marginalized populations. By the time the virus was isolated and research had begun, many mutations had occurred.  

The mortality rates were much higher if you were diagnosed HIV Positive.  The modes of transmission are different between these two viruses and COVID-19 spreads much more rapidly as it is an airborne infection.

One of the more crucial supports with HIV was peer support. I could not imagine how difficult it has been for many dying COVID patients to be isolated from loved ones.  

As with the Aids Pandemic, governments around the Globe are heading in many different directions to respond to the Pandemic. Drug and Vaccine approvals get caught up in jurisdictional approval processes.  I remember in 1996 when the Cocktail of Protease Inhibitors showed real promise in the treatment of the HIV Virus.  The Cocktail was approved for release in Canada months and weeks AFTER the U.S.A.   As result, some people died from this type of Red Tape.  A friend of mine in Vancouver was very sick but had inherited money from an Estate.  He was able to go down to Blaine Washington and purchase such medication. It added years to his life.

Surviving a Pandemic can cause huge Trauma-related issues that affect a person’s mental health.  (This applies to both). Our society moving forward must be mindful of that and make priority investments in that field.

We have an opportunity to slow or stop the COVID Pandemic as a result of quick vaccine development. I will be doing my part and going for a booster later this week.  We did not have that opportunity with the Aids Virus. If we all do our part, we can get through this one together! 

On December 1, 2021, I will spend a day with mixed feelings, as I have for many years. I have a deep sense of gratitude to be here to share my story.  I also will grieve and reflect on the many lives lost too early.