HE WAS INFECTED WHEN HE WAS STILL A NEWBORN THROUGH A BLOOD TRANSFUSION, BUT WAS NOT DIAGNOSED WITH AIDS UNTIL THE 16 YEARS AROUND ... DEREK, NOW THE FOUNDER OF THE CAMPAIGN #ENDTHESTIGMA, TELLS HIS HISTORY OF SAMANTHA POSITIVELITE.COM
SAMANTHA was interviewing Derek Canas from Brunswick, Georgia, a man with a history. Intrigued, I went to interview him for PositiveLite.com.
He made his entrance into the world in 1984. Derek, who now has 30 for years, was born with a rare heart disease and his life expectancy was "no more than a few months."
At the age of three months Derek underwent open heart surgery and without him or his family or his medical staff knew, he contracted HIV during several blood transfusions he needed.
Derek explains how everything was "pretty normal," except for having a pacemaker: "I had three months old when I received the implant of my first pacemaker. I fell ill three to four times a year, with bronchitis and pneumonia.
My family members have always expressed their concerns about my weight and height. His fears have calmed down with the simplistic explanation given by doctors "he has a heart problem, he will always be a small person."
In addition to the concern with Derek, frequent illnesses, his weight and height, Derek had a happy childhood. "I survived until the 16 years without being diagnosed. I was going to a doctor to take growth hormone to do some x-rays. They helped it grow to 1.52m and reach weight, reaching just under 50Kg. The idea of being tested for HIV came after a medical student noticed that I had never been tested for HIV. I had one and my worst fears came true. "
What has changed? "Many facts related to medicine and exams are defined with great words that sound scary. The people of the community move away from me because of the
misinformation about the virus. People only heard that I had AIDS. They never asked how I got it or something. I saw people whispering about me having entered a restaurant and as if they were scared, if I would have used the cutlery they have in the restaurant. Fortunately I had a large group of friends who did their best to protect me from stigma. "
Derek described how, initially, he handled his AIDS diagnosis. "I hung up. I did not want to see anyone. I've been living. But then two weeks later, I had to start treatment and after a meeting, with a great medical staff I slowly came back to life. I learned to laugh again and not to mourn. "
Derek has decided to become a lawyer for people living with HIV, with the goal of eliminating stigma and educating the public about the virus. He started the campaign ...
Derek used this tool that is social media as a way to initiate a dialogue about HIV / AIDS in the southern US and elsewhere.
"It started in October last year, I spoke to the local faculty as part of a patchwork at the awards ceremony and that this forced me to try to get out and help support other people living with HIV. That is to build groups of people who support my goal - to the permanent end of stigma, all together, promoting essays and education. "
"My biggest challenge is just to make people feel comfortable having a discussion about HIV," he said. "If we can not talk about HIV, then, the perception is that this, the stigma, will never change. The general public still has the old fears of the early 90 years, no one in my town has ever risen and was the voice of a campaign against HIV. "
Says Derek about the "#EndtheStigma: it's me and many others called angels and warriors. They have the bracelets and shirts that help put an end to stigma and educate others to encourage testing. I have Angels and Warriors all over town and even in Florida. The campaign is growing day by day. "
Derek is very enthusiastic about what the future holds for him. He fights against stigma in another way. Derek is a professional DJ in Brunswick, Ga. He has also performed in Orlando, Jacksonville and Savannah and is also known as DJ-D REK. "I have been working as a DJ for 8 for years and now I am well known in my city. I also use a new system for DJs called emulator, an 46 device inches glass double view and touch.
Derek considers that he can pass on the message about HIV and stigma through music. He knew the stigma on a personal level to club-goers doing karaoke, people were afraid to use the microphone after him. Derek wants to change these perceptions and eliminate fear.
Derek is as popular as a DJ who sometimes there is a queue outside the club, at the doors, to get into the dance and into his music.
Below, a bit of Derek's performance
Derek in his efforts to educate others about HIV / AIDS and to promote HIV testing continue in the community and at events and schools. He also wants to go to schools and colleges to tell his life story for surviving 16 years diagnosed as HIV positive.
According to Derek " schools need to have speakers that kids can relate to. I know that when I spoke in high school here in my community I connected with the students at a level they appreciated. I see some of these students around town and they always come talk to me and ask when I will be going back to their school. I have 30 years old, so the possibility to see me on a campus is very easy and when I tell my story I tell jokes. I always tell people who have never seen me tell my story with tears in my eyes; I'm always laughing "
In 2014 Derek was nominated with One of the 10 men living with HIV more attractive.
Derek describes himself as "Thegoing far beyond, always busy and very excited to see what tomorrow brings. "
He he sees himself as "The new New Kids on the Block." As the youngest in the Group; that Derek has made a huge impact on the community through his campaign, his music, his regular presentations in schools and other venues to educate the public is no doubt. At this rate, it will be interesting to see what Derek will accomplish in the future.
Positivelite.com Editor's Note: You may be aware that Derek's delay in diagnosing HIV seropositivity has been the subject of a lengthy legal process that Derek does not want to be the focus of his story as it has been long and stressful for him and for your family. But briefly, Derek's family sued those responsible, alleging negligence on the part of the medical team because of a lack of diagnosis of HIV seropositivity, but they were unsuccessful. Said one newpaper report in 2007 Brunswick, the man who contracted HIV during a blood transfusion as a boy at the Georgia Medical School Hospital can not sue his physicians for errors in diagnosing their symptoms during a decade of treatment, a panel of the Georgia Supreme Court declared Monday 13 / 04 / 2015, in a four-vote decision against three, High Court of the State of Georgia, judges ruled that Georgia's statute of limitations on Derek Canas's right to sue his physicians for medical malpractice, in the course of term"
The appeal was later dismissed by the Georgian Supreme Court, the ruling again citing Georgia's statute of limitations.
But the case (Kaminer v. Canas) has become one of the most important in establishing the law concerning erroneous facts and when they can be filed and is quoted to this day.
Translated, edited and illustrated by Cláudio Souza from the original published in 15 of April of 2015: DEREK CANAS'S STORY
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