Centre saved renowned artist's life
By PHYLICIA TORREVILLAS
March 15, 2012 - Vancouver artist Tiko Kerr says he's lucky and thankful to be alive.
Kerr tested positive for HIV in Sydney, Australia, in 1985 when he was 32 years old.
"My doctor told me to go home and put my estate in order," he said. "And I did."
When he got back, he was surprised to learn the fate of his friends who were living with the deadly disease.
"Everyone was dropping like flies," he said. "All my friends from that generation are dead now."
With the advancements in HIV-AIDS treatment, Kerr said he's "totally fine and healthy" now at 58.
"I've been given my life back," he added. "I don't have side effects from the pills, which was a huge problem for many years. I literally feel like I'm 25 years old again."
He says he's lucky to be living in B.C. and to have the best medical team on his side.
"I plant full responsibility on Julio (Montaner) and his team at (the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)," said Kerr, adding they were the real reason he survived as long as he has.
"I couldn't be in better hands," he said. "(Montaner) is my champion. He was the one who championed the effort to get the new medications from Health Canada for myself and 500 other men."
Kerr has been turning all the medical paraphernalia such as pill bottles and syringes he's accumulated over the years from his treatments into art. He says he used his art as an outlet to vent out his anger, frustration and fear.
But now he's excited for a future without the deadly disease.
"I live in hope," he said. "Miracles have totally changed the situation."