The Positive Side

Fall/Winter 2003 

Editor’s Letter

By RonniLyn Pustil


WHEN PHOTOGRAPHER JAKE PETERS sent in some self-portraits to accompany his story about living with lipodystrophy (“Every Picture Tells a Story”), I knew I'd found our cover shot when I saw the one of him looking in the mirror. It's a powerful image with many layers. In this private moment caught on film (by himself), Jake is gazing at his lipo-laden reflection and — this is why I find the image so compelling — beyond it. He's on a journey through the looking glass.

We'd like to thank our readers — 70% of whom are people living with HIV/AIDS — who recently accompanied us on our journey through the looking glass by responding to a survey about this magazine. When it comes to The Positive Side (PS), you are our mirror.

PS aims to shed light on what it's like to live with HIV/AIDS, so rather than providing the typical treatment info found in most HIV newsletters, our intention is two-fold: To bridge a gap in treatment information — between the medical and the personal; clinical and anecdotal; allopathic and holistic — and to connect the dots — between one’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual health; between PHAs across the country; between one’s quantity and quality of life. In order to assess whether we're accomplishing this, we need to look in the mirror from time to time — that is, to you.

So we sent out a survey with the magazine (Volume 6, Issue 1) and asked your opinion. Here are some highlights from the 266 reader responses we received:

Overall satisfaction:

  • 91% of you are satisfied or very satisfied with PS.
  • 98% of you say that the magazine provides info that speaks to you.
  • 81% of you agree that PS provides info you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

As a result of reading PS:

  • 96% of you believe that you have a greater understanding of HIV/AIDS treatment and ways of improving your well-being.
  • 90% of you feel that you're able to make decisions about managing your health.

Bridging the gap in treatment info:

  • 98% of you state that it’s valuable to hear the experiences of other PHAs when making decisions that impact your health.
  • 98% of you find that PS is good at addressing the broader issues of treatment in the context of people's lives and communities (including complementary therapies, emotional and spiritual well-being).

Reaching out:

  • 91% of you feel that PS helps you feel less isolated and/or more connected with the HIV/AIDS landscape in Canada.
  • 94% of you recommend PS to colleagues and friends.
  • 90% of you share info from the magazine with others.

Survey says: You’re happy to have a magazine about HIV with a Canadian focus. Chatty CATIE is a hit. You especially like the personal accounts of other PHAs — in your words, you find these stories "reassuring," "helpful," "empowering," "valuable." Many of you want to see more of these stories from your own neck of the woods.

You also gave us many suggestions about how to make the magazine even better. The bottom line is that you want more. More issues of PS, more stories, more voices, more diversity, more topics. You want to read more about: Aging, alternative therapies, “articles about how life with HIV can really suck sometimes,” dating, death, depression, disclosure (see Chatty CATIE), discrimination, going back to work, holistic living, how-to stories, interviews, long-term survivors, new treatments, parenting, pregnancy, rural info and issues, self-help, sex, side effects, spirituality, stigma, Tai Chi.… (some of these were covered in our last issue). You want more experiences and opinions from different ethnocultural communities.

One reader’s comment still stands out in my mind: After reading PS, I have a more global view of my situation as a human being: I can’t be defined by a virus!!! I have the impression that [I], the human being, who also has a fatal illness, have learned a few more tricks to help me face this disease… and life in general. As the editor, there’s no greater feedback I could imagine.

Thanks for letting us see ourselves in your mirror. We welcome your feedback, so please drop us a line ( or call us collect at 1.800.263.1638 (ext. 291) if you want to contribute your stories or ideas to the magazine. In the meantime, enjoy this issue and take good care.