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"Since I was 13, I have been sharing my story about overcoming my battle with HIV and depression."

About Brryan:Brryan-Jackson-profile

I am from Saint Louis, Missouri and I am 25 years of age. Since I was 13, I have been sharing my story about overcoming my battle with HIV and depression. When I was 11-months-old, my father intentionally injected me with HIV-tainted blood, hoping to end my life so that he would never have to pay child support.

My family didn’t discover this until 1996, when I went from being a playful, energetic 5-year-old to a vomiting, feverish sick kid, given just months to live. My father was later charged and is still serving a life sentence in prison. Meanwhile, I was left in a different prison, having to deal with a virus that restrains me mentally, emotional, physically and socially while I was growing up. It still affects me today.

Because of the problems I have faced, I now work to spread my story to try and help others who may be struggling with issues in their own lives.

(Learn more about Brian’s story in this BBC Interview).

What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression?

Growing up most people were uneducated about HIV/AIDS – I was constantly bullied in school, wasn’t included in common kids activities (birthday parties, sports, etc.) and had a difficult time fitting in. Being an outsider and being repeatedly told I was going to end up a statistic, I had to switch the script and change my own self-talk. I firmly believe in having hope and that we can create our own story, rather than letting others determine it. This shift in perspective was really what got me through my most troubling times.

What are some things that really helped?

I realized that I didn’t want to be an angry kid anymore and I wanted to make a difference in my life and in others. These few things really helped:

Being hopeful is vital

  • Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not fail. I found out that in life we come into this world being carried, to taking baby steps, to one at a time – then we learn to run and take leaps of faith. But what guarantees we can make those leaps, or if we fall short that we can get back up? That is hope, and hope is vital.

Asking the right questions, shifting the perspective

  • At 13, I realized that when bad things happened to me I always asked, “Why is this happening to me?” After doing deep searching, I realized I was asking the wrong question. The question I need to ask is why not me? The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence; it is greener where you water it.

Forgiving and letting go of the past

  • At 16, I chose forgiveness. I needed to let go of the past to pursue today. I dropped off my baggage at God’s feet and said I forgive those who have hurt me; I even forgave my father. My health did a 180 when I made that decision. Flash forward to now, I’m a happy, healthy 25-year-old man, who is no longer battling HIV, because it’s undetectable. My viral load is so low, giving me a hope to have kids someday because I can’t pass on the virus. We can’t change the past, but we can choose the outcome of the future.

Trusting you have everything you need to overcome

  • I truly believe that we are not called to be extraordinary. I believe that we are all ordinary people who are called to do extraordinary things. We were given all the tools we need to live the life we were given – hope, faith, courage, and boldness. We forget to utilize them.

Starting the conversation

  • It is important whatever you go through in life, to start a conversation that is pure and organic about whatever struggle you are going through, because if you wait around the conversation may never happen. The best way to lead these conversations is to simply listen.

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

Talk about your feelings and struggles! It does no good to deal with anything alone. Alone is a lie! There is a true strength and self-value to admitting struggles in life. People love to wear masks and pretend rather than be honest and find solutions. Know that you matter and that hope is what reminds us that everything is going to be ok.

I wish there was an abracadabra moment in life to make all of our problems go away, but the truth is everything we go through has a reason; whether it’s for us or somebody else. You matter and have a purpose, put on a good fight and show the world your passion and story.

Brryan Jackson, international motivational speaker, from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United Statesfacebookinsta twitter


Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024