The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Joe Average (Spring/Summer 2005)

Age: 53
Vancouver
Living with HIV for 28 years
CD4 count: 650
Viral load: undetectable

“HIV-positive artist committed to creating awareness through painting and, more recently, photography.”

How would you describe your health?
Good.

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
The biggest issues at present are the psychological effects of lipoatrophy. I have dropped 40 pounds in body fat and muscle. I recently created a short film with a good friend on the subject of my lipoatrophy and how it has affected me. It is part of my slow return to photography as an artistic outlet.

In one word, describe this moment in AIDS.
On one hand, this moment in AIDS is a good one — as in, I am still around to talk about it. On the other hand, I am very upset with the media. They have painted HIV/AIDS as something you can live a long and healthy life with. Consequently, people, especially young people, are being lax with their concerns about safe sex. This frightens me. What the media doesn’t report on is what living with HIV/AIDS involves. For me, in the past 10 years, it’s been a full-time job managing the physical and psychological side effects from the drugs.

In 10 years…
I have learned with HIV to live in the present and try not to worry or speculate about the future.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
“Somewhere” by Leonard Bernstein.