In society, we’re taught unwritten laws, such as HIV and AIDS should not be joked about. In stand-up comedy, nothing is off limits. Comedian Brandon “Andy Feds” Cox Sanford was born HIV+, having contracted the virus from his mother, Lynette.
After both of their diagnoses, Lynette grew fearful of how she and her only son would be viewed in society. By the mid-90s, the HIV/AIDS pandemic grew globally and information about both diseases were still very limited.
Lynette’s fear caused her to come to the decision of not taking her anti-retroviral treatments (ART), medicine for HIV, and didn’t give Andy his. This led to both of their immune systems being weakened, causing both of them to become very ill.
“My goal is to prevent my mother’s death from happening again to anyone else,” Andy Feds said, “By that, I mean, I want to make sure that people won’t allow fear to control their health.” Andy Feds performs stand-up comedy material on several real-life experiences but talking about HIV/AIDS is his favourite topic to talk about when onstage.
“I know that sometimes it uncomfortable to hear someone talk about having this virus, but I want to get it to not be uncomfortable! Millions of people have HIV or AIDS!” Performing comedy material on his life with life-threatening conditions has given Andy Feds many different reactions.
Some audience upset by it, some are too uncomfortable to sit through the entire performance, but many times, Andy Feds captivate his audience with a fresh idea on talking about HIV/AIDS with humor. “I want people to understand that I’m not making light of HIV/AIDS. Yes, I know it’s a very serious topic.
What I’m doing is sharing how funny my life is while dealing with HIV/AIDS. I’m making fun of myself in hopes that people fighting the same fight can find a little humor in it too,” Feds said. Since creating the “Keeping It Positive” movement, Andy Feds have collaborated with several HIV/AIDS organizations worldwide, including Alicia Keys’ Keep A Child Alive foundation.
“At first, I was just doing this in Las Vegas, but then I realized that I can’t help as many people as I want by staying locally,” Feds said. Andy Feds also teaches safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention by contacting several middle and high schools.
In March 2021, Andy Feds will be participating in the Keep A Child Alive’s Los Angeles Marathon, where he’ll raise awareness and funds for families affected by HIV/AIDS. “The marathon is 26 miles. Yeah, that’s a lot, but I will keep the pain in the back of my mind.
I have to think of the pain that my mother and anyone else who died from HIV and AIDS-related deaths went through. The pain of running a marathon doesn’t even compare,” Feds said.