An Aids Survivor Inspires Kids with HIV
updated 09/27/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/27/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Saint Charles, Mo.
Brryan Jackson knows he's lucky to be alive. In 1992 his father, a blood technician, injected Brryan, then 11 months old, with HIV-tainted blood in an alleged attempt to dodge child-support payments. By the age of 5, Brryan had developed full-blown AIDS, leaving the once energetic child weak, unable to walk and close to death. Astonishingly, as Brryan's health improved with antiretroviral medicine, he worked up the courage in 2006 to forgive his father, who's now serving a life sentence in prison. "I needed to move on," says Brryan, who now has an undetectable amount of the virus in his blood. "I wanted to do something with my life."
For six years he's volunteered at Camp Kindle (campkindle.org), a weeklong camp near Omaha, providing comfort-and living proof that HIV is no longer a certain death sentence-to hundreds of HIV-affected kids and their families. The community college student has also lobbied Congress for increased AIDS funding and spoken at dozens of high schools nationwide to reduce the stigma of HIV. "I can see him changing hearts," says Eva Payne, Camp Kindle's founder. Adds Renee Lloyd, 15, whose mom has HIV: "For Brryan to actually rise up from what went on when he was younger is just amazing."
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