Earlier this year, Brryan Jackson, 24, faced down Brian Stewart, his own father, at a parole hearing in Missouri. Stewart is behind bars, and Jackson argued that the board should keep him there. Brryan has a powerful reason to do so.
In 1991, when Jackson was just 11 months old, Stewart injected his son with HIV-positive blood, hoping to kill the baby to get out of paying child-support payments.
Stewart told the parole board of his father: “He didn’t just try to kill me, he changed my life forever. He was responsible for the bullying, he was responsible for all the years in the hospital. He’s the reason I have to be so conscious about my health and what I do.”
The crime occurred after Stewart returned home from fighting in Operation Desert Storm. Jackson said his mother described Stewart as having been damaged by the war. He reportedly became abusive and threatening. He claimed that Brryan was not his actual child and left the family.
At the time, Stewart worked at a blood lab and stole a vial of HIV-infected blood. Jackson claims his father joked to co-workers about injecting people with the tainted blood they handled.
Baby Brryan suffered an asthma attack and was recuperating at a hospital, when Stewart showed up. He hadn’t been around for months. While alone with his son, Stewart used a syringe to inject the diseased blood into the baby.
Subsequently, Jackson fell gravely ill. His condition baffled doctors until one medic tested him for HIV in 1995. Jackson says, “When the test came back, I was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS and three opportunistic infections… They gave me five months to live and sent me home.”
Somehow Jackson beat the odds and continued with his education. Still, stigma against people with AIDS caused him to be bullied and humiliated throughout his schooling.
As Jackson told the BBC, “Back in the ’90s, people thought back then you could get AIDS from a toilet seat… [Classmates would] call me things like, ‘Aids boy, gay boy.’ That’s when I started to feel isolated and alone. I felt like there was no place in the world for me.” Despite the challenges, Jackson kept pushing forward.
Brian Stewart was finally arrested for the crime and convicted of first-degree assault in 1998.
Today, Jackson credits his Christian faith with enabling him to forgive his father. Still, he wants Jackson to finish his sentence, stating: “Forgiveness isn’t easy, but I didn’t want to lower myself to his level. I may have forgiven him, but even in forgiveness I believe you have to pay the consequences.”
The recent testimony was not easy for Jackson. He said: “During the parole hearing, [Stewart] kept calling me his son. I tried to raise my hand to request he refer to me as his victim. I thought, ‘At what point have I ever been his son? Was I his son when he intentionally injected me with HIV?'”
Jackson presently works as a motivational speaker and received Nickelodeon’s Halo Award for the work he does to benefit children. He has a higher-than-average T-cell count and says also that he’s the healthiest he’s ever been. He even told the press, “I’m as healthy as a horse! Healthier than a horse! I am beyond that!”
Main photo: Brryan J R Jackson, Facebook page