The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco (Winter 2011)

Age: “the other side of 40”
Living with HIV for 25 years
CD4 count and viral load: “You don't ask a lady her age or an HIV poz guy his counts.”

“Somewhat-edgy longtime AIDS survivor involved in doing community-based research, educating emerging HIV researchers and writing about sex.”

How would you describe your health?

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
A number of them — I deal with them optimistically, one at a time.

You were on our most recent cover, in Winter 2011. How was the experience of being on the cover of the magazine?
Lovely, very flattering, an honour.

Have you had any reaction to it?
Yes, very positive comments, particularly from co-workers, some strangers and HIV-negative people. They say they understand what I do and the fact that I have had a full life that includes books, travel, drugs and prostitution makes my life story interesting.

One of the topics you study is stigma. In these interviews with HIV-positive people, quite a few have mentioned that they still feel stigma as someone living with HIV. What is your experience with this?
As a gay man on the other side of 40 living with HIV and with some body changes due to age and lipoatrophy, most of the stigma I sense radiates from inside the gay communities, from our fearful obsession with youth and beauty.

In one word, describe this moment in AIDS.
A moment of apparent respite in Canada, with a great deal of delusion about the social, cultural, mental and physical effects of HIV.

In 10 years…
The HIV/AIDS field will be highly professionalized, with lots of busybodies, but epidemiologically similar, entrenched in disparity, stigma and delusion. I see myself being fabulous and old, a bit curmudgeonly but surrounded by young students learning together.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer.