The Positive Side

Spring 2019 

Editor’s Letter

By Debbie Koenig

At The Positive Side, we’re always on the lookout for people living with HIV who want to share their stories. (Maybe that’s you! If so, drop us a line at And we’re constantly awestruck by the incredible people we meet. People from across the country of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. People who speak candidly about their struggles and who—over time, with the right support—develop great resiliency.

In this issue, we profile two people who embody stunning resiliency. Both have experienced traumatic life events and have come out the other side more connected to themselves and their purpose. They’re surviving and thriving—with creativity, conviction, compassion and humour.

Gareth Henry, whose playful grin graces the cover of this issue, came to Canada as a refugee. Having survived brutal homophobia in his native Jamaica, he has spent his entire adult life standing up for the rights of LGBTQ people around the world. In the past decade, he has helped hundreds of queer and trans people seek asylum. Don’t miss “Life Saver.”

You’ll also meet photographer and artist Gustavo Hannecke. After suffering the loss of his birth family when they disowned him for being gay and the loss of his lucrative job following the crash of the tech sector, life lost meaning for him. But Gustavo soon landed in a good place—in fact, a better place: “I decided to abandon my old ways of trying to satisfy social expectations. From that point onwards, I was going to be the person I dreamed of being when I was 22—a good person, an artist, a father, a partner.” Read his inspiring story, “Now I Will Be Me.”

In “Something to Be Anal About,” CATIE’s own Joseph van Veen talks openly about his experiences as a two-time survivor (HIV and cancer) and helps shine a light on a cancer we don’t talk about enough. We are also proud to feature three Indigenous physicians—Drs. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Samantha Boshart and Melinda Fowler-Woods—who explore the question: What can Western medicine learn from Indigenous healing?  Also in this issue: learn to lead; real talk from and for poz women; and more.

This issue feels like it’s been a long time coming, and so does spring. Enjoy them both!