This is a profile by Shazia Islam which originally appeared on the CATIE website. CATIE the acronym for Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange.
HIV activist Christian Hui achievements are many: He recently spearheaded a national organization for people living with HIV and hepatitis C (the Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN)) and coordinated the launch of Ontario Positive Asians (OPA+), the first network for Asians living with HIV in Ontario. He coordinates community engagement at Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) and does peer work to promote the sexual health of newcomers with HIV through the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT).
While doing all that and more, he also just completed a bachelor of social work at Ryerson University, where in 2015 he received the President’s Award for Community Engagement and more recently a full scholarship to pursue his master of social work. No small feat for someone who had to rebuild his life in the aftermath of not only an HIV diagnosis but also considerable bullying and rejection throughout much of his childhood and youth, followed by an addiction to crystal meth and, in 2010, a hepatitis C diagnosis.
Before all this great work Christian fell into a dark hole
To meet men, Christian went online and to clubs, only to find more racial discrimination, but this time in the local gay community. He was often met with cold stares; non-Asian men kept to their own corner, rarely interacting with Asian men. “Why am I doing this work? Because I want my fellow peers to be in a better place, to make sure our rights are protected and that we’re not treated differently due to our HIV status.”
“Why am I doing this work? Because I want my fellow peers to be in a better place, to make sure our rights are protected and that we’re not treated differently due to our HIV status.”
Christian started drinking with friends, then smoking pot, then experimenting with ecstasy, K, cocaine and crystal meth. Initially he did meth only occasionally but eventually he was doing it every weekend.
When he was high, he would often engage in condomless sex. Looking back, it wasn’t just the drugs that affected his ability to negotiate safer sex, he says, but also the homophobia and racism he experienced: “The use of substances was how I learned to cope with my HIV status and not being accepted by society.”
Now he is the subject of a new short film
Empty Nest is a short film, written by Vince Ha and Mezart Daulet, based on the life of HIV activist Christian Hui. The title refers to the sense of emptiness that sometimes accompanies addiction, but the film brings to light how the right supports helped Christian break away from that emptiness.
To read more of this profile go to Back from the Brink
Watch the film based on Christian life below at YouTube Link