Rene was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. When he was 14 years old, he left the province and, in the following decades, lived all over North America. He eventually settled in Nova Scotia in 1979. He was diagnosed as being HIV positive in the early 1980’s through a blood transfusion he received. He said it was scary when he was first diagnosed because he didn’t know anything about AIDS, so he reached out to the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia.
Rene decided that he wanted to help others who were impacted by HIV/AIDS so he began volunteering. Over the course of fifteen years, Rene sat on the Board of Directors for AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia and volunteered his time to many various activities. When asked what motivated him to volunteer, he replied, “It was an outlet that was very helpful for me - it kept my mind occupied so that I was not dwelling on my health issues.”
“Stigma is the hardest part of being positive.”
Rene acknowledges that although he feels the stigma is not as bad as when he was first diagnosed 35 years ago, it still exists today – even within his own family. Despite his difficulties, he tries to focus on maintaining his well-being. He loves the outdoors and enjoys camping and fishing. He believes keeping busy and having a good sense of humour is the key to happiness.