The Positive Side

Winter 2013 

Editor's Letter

By David McLay


This past October, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its verdict on two cases involving non-disclosure of HIV status during sex. While the judgement dismayed many HIV activists, it did define one situation in which people with HIV do not have to disclose their status before sex—namely, when they have a low viral load (less than 1,500) and a condom is used. Go to for more info.

These rulings reinforce the false view that prevention rests solely with the HIV-positive individual instead of being a responsibility shared by both people. They may also lead to people with HIV feeling pressure to start treatment, not only for their own health but also to reduce their legal risk.

At the same time, new guidelines are suggesting that people start HIV treatment at higher CD4 counts. This is partly based on evidence that doing so can protect the body from damage caused by HIV, but it’s also based on evidence that starting earlier reduces the risk of transmitting HIV.

For people with HIV, all of these changes mark a shift from making treatment decisions based solely on their own health (and readiness to start, of course) to making decisions that include the potential impact on other people. However, it is only the HIV-positive person who must deal with the side effects and risks, many of which are still unknown.

The Positive Side encourages every person with HIV to make the treatment decision that is right for them. And we think the needs of the person living with the virus should always come first. You should not feel pressured to start treatment solely for the benefit of others.

Of course, we are here to provide information and support, whether it’s about HIV treatment or another aspect of living well with HIV. In this issue we look at managing lipid levels, getting a good night’s sleep and growing up with HIV.

We also have stories of tattoos, beach weddings and meeting Fashion Television goddess Jeanne Beker. Would we expect anything less from the great people living with HIV in this country? Absolutely not.