The Positive Side

Summer 2012 

Editor's Letter

By David McLay


Many threads weave art and AIDS together, creating a tapestry over the past 30 years of the epidemic. The early ­epidemic hit Canada’s art community particularly hard, leaving threadbare spots filled with fear, despair and sadness. Later, as medical treatments improved, richness returned to the tapestry as HIV-positive artists channelled their energies into creating works that reflect the current realities of living with the virus. I am particularly excited to present a story that explores this tapestry and shares the lives and art of four HIV-positive Canadian artists. Reading “The Big Picture” opened my eyes to a world of beauty and power. I hope it does the same for you.

The other two feature articles in this issue complement the artistic with the medical and the social. We look at some of the factors to consider before starting HIV treatment in “On Your Mark, Get Set, StART.” In “Treatment Benefits for All?” we explore some broader social implications of our growing understanding that being on HIV treatment can lower the risk of HIV transmission.

Finally, our regular columns bring the much-loved mix of humour, info and inspiration. Programs for Aboriginal people living with HIV are highlighted in From the Front Lines. Chatty CATIE probes people about their pets—and they don’t hold back. Ask the Experts offers help with peripheral neuropathy. We also get inspired by lawyer and activist Jeff Keller and artist Andrew McPhail.

We hope you enjoy the variety assembled in this issue. It’s a great reminder that life with HIV is its own rich tapestry.


Correction: In “A Hard Day’s Work” in the Winter 2012 issue, we stated that the only job in Canada that HIV-­positive people are not permitted to do is that of emergency medical technician. In fact, this exclusion varies across the country. For example, it applies in Ontario, but Alberta has no guidelines around HIV status and this occupation.