The Positive Side

Summer 2018 

Editor’s Letter

By Debbie Koenig

The science of HIV transmission isn’t exactly sexy. It doesn’t immediately lend itself to catchy slogans and mass appeal. But make it catchy and broadly appealing is exactly what Bruce Richman did.

Bruce is the founder and driving force behind the U=U campaign—a movement aimed at spreading the word that when people with HIV are on effective treatment, they don’t pass HIV to their sex partners. He took a large body of scientific evidence and found a way to communicate it—clearly, simply, in a way that speaks to people. He came up with a powerful slogan: U=U (undetectable=​untransmittable). He found champions. And in the span of two short years, in partnership with researchers and HIV activists, he turned a message that many were at first reluctant to endorse into a campaign with enthusiastic international support. Read Bruce’s account in “U=U: The Backstory.”

While there’s still a long way to go, many people with HIV—including many of you—are now living more openly and freely, with less stigma, anxiety and fear. In ”Lovin’ with HIV,” Margarite Sanchez and Valerie Nicholson talk about the liberating impact of U=U. They describe feeling better and more confident about themselves, about having more relaxed and spontaneous sex lives. Similarly, as we hear in Chatty CATIE, the use of certain HIV medications by HIV-negative people to prevent transmission (PrEP) has allowed them to have more fulfilling sex lives as well.

Also in this issue: We look at the critical role patients can play as partners in their own healthcare—“The Patient as Partner”; we profile three women who are working to put the needs of poz women front and centre in HIV research and care—“The Women of CHIWOS”; we ask pharmacist Jennifer Hawkes for practical advice on HIV treatment and adherence—“Ask the Experts”; and we shine a light on the work of artist Andrew Zealley in “Art Posi+ive.”

Welcome to the summer issue! Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories and pitched ideas. We love hearing from you! Keep it coming: