HE WAS INFECTED WHEN A NEWBORN WAS STILL THROUGH A BLOOD TRANSFUSION, BUT HE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED WITH AIDS UNTIL HE ARRIVED AT 16 ... DEREK, NOW FOUNDER OF THE #ENDTHESTIGMA CAMPAIGN, TELLS HIS STORY OF SAMANTHA POSITIVELITE.COM
SAMANTHA went to interview Derek Canas from Brunswick, Georgia, a man with a story. Intrigued, I went to interview him for PositiveLite.com.
He entered the world in 1984. Derek, now 30, 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, his family or his medical team knowing, he contracted HIV during several blood transfusions that he needed.
Derek explains how everything was “quite normal”, except for having a pacemaker: “I had three months old when I received my first pacemaker implant. 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 were allayed by the simplistic explanation given by doctors "he has a heart problem, he will always be a small person".
In addition to his concern for Derek, frequent illnesses, his weight and height, Derek had a happy childhood. “I survived until the age of 16 without being diagnosed. I was going to a doctor to take growth hormone and get some x-rays. They helped - 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 were realized ".
What has changed? “Many facts related to medicine and exams are defined with big words that sound scary. People in the community turn away from me because of
misinformation about the virus. People just heard that I had AIDS. They never asked how I got it, or anything. I saw people whispering about me going into a restaurant and as if they were scared, if I would have used the silverware they have in the restaurant. Fortunately I had a large group of friends who did their best to protect me from the stigma. "
Derek described how he initially dealt with his AIDS diagnosis. “I hung up. I didn't want to see anyone. I've been living. But then, two weeks later, I had to start treatment and after a meeting with a large medical team I slowly came back to life. I learned to laugh again and not regret it ”.
Derek decided to become an advocate for people living with HIV, with the aim of eliminating stigma and educating the public about the virus. He started the campaign ...
Derek used this tool, which is social media, as a way to start a dialogue on HIV / AIDS in the south of the USA and elsewhere.
“It started in October last year, I spoke at the local college as part of a patchwork quilt at the award ceremony and that it forced me to try to go out and help support other people living with HIV. That it is building groups of people that support my goal - until the permanent end of the stigma, all together, promoting trials and education. ”
“My biggest challenge is just to make people feel comfortable having a discussion about HIV“, he said. “If we can't talking about HIV, then, the perception is that this, the stigma, will never change. The general public still has the old fears of the early 90s, nobody in my city has ever stood up and was the voice of a campaign against HIV. ”
Says Derek about “#EndtheStigma: is that I and many others called angels and warriors. They have bracelets and T-shirts that help end stigma and educate others to encourage testing. I have Angels and Warriors all over the city and even in Florida. The campaign is growing day by day. ”
Derek is very excited about what the future holds for him. He fights stigma in another way. Derek is a professional DJ in Brunswick, Ga. He has also played in Orlando, Jacksonville and Savannah and is also known as DJ-D REK. "I have been working as a DJ for 8 years and now I am well known in my city. I also use a new DJ system called an emulator, a 46-inch double-glazed sight and touch device. ”
Derek believes he can get the message out about HIV and stigma through music. He met stigma on a personal level when club-goers doing karaoke, people were afraid to use the microphone after him. Derek wants to change these perceptions and eliminate fear.
Derek is so popular as a DJ that there is sometimes a line outside the club, at the doors, to enter the dance and his music.
Below, a bit of Derek's performance
Derek in his efforts to educate others about HIV / AIDS and to promote HIV testing continues in the community and at events and schools. He also wants to go to schools and colleges to tell his life story for having survived 16 years diagnosed as HIV positive.
According to Derek " schools they need to have speakers that children can relate to. I know that when I spoke at school here in my community, I connected with students at a level they enjoyed. I see some of these students around the city and they always come to talk to me and ask when I am going back to their school. I am 30 years old, so the possibility of seeing myself on 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 am always laughing! “
In 2014 Derek was nominated with One of the 10 men living with HIV more attractive.
Derek describes himself as "Igoing much further, always keeping busy and very excited to see what tomorrow brings. ”
He sees himself as “The new New Kids on the Block”. As the smallest in the Group; that Derek has made a big impact on the community through his campaign, his music, his regular performances at schools and other places to educate the public is beyond doubt. At this rate, it will be interesting to see what Derek will accomplish in the future.
Editor's note from Positivelite.com: you may be aware that Derek's delay in diagnosing HIV-positive status has been the subject of a long legal process that Derek does not wish to be the focus of his story as it was 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 due to a lack 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 cannot sue his doctors for errors in diagnosing his symptoms during a decade of treatment, a group from the Georgia Supreme Court said Monday last April 13, 04, in a four-to-three decision, Georgia State High Court, the judges decided that Georgia's statute of limitations on Derek Canas' right to sue his doctors for medical malpractice, by way of term"
The appeal was subsequently dismissed by the Georgia Supreme Court, the decision again citing Georgia's statute of limitations.
But the case (Kaminer v. Canas) has become one of the most important cases in which the law on erroneous facts is instituted and when they can be filed and is cited to this day.
Translated, edited and illustrated by Cláudio Souza from the original published on April 15, 2015: DEREK CANAS'S STORY
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And it was not within a "comfort zone"! This is a story that only I have to tell!
I was the first individual, a CPF, not a CNPJ to, in quotes, “Slap my face”!
For all that I lived, it all happened in a period still troubled by prejudice and, yes, there were prices to be paid.
The currency has always been that of social exclusion and I have even hesitated between continuing or not!
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If not bored by the empty hours, at least by suicide due to the absolute lack of purpose that my life would have and the terrible impression of parasitosis that would come to affect me. So, I couldn't stop.
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