The Positive Side

Fall/Winter 2005 

Resources: Community Chest

Compiled by Derek Thaczuk


LAST SPRING, ON CATIE'S BEHALF, I went on a treasure hunt. CATIE hosts a working group of community members from across the country who produce and distribute HIV treatment information. This group — the Treatment Information Network, or “TIN” (because everything AIDS must have an acronym) — meets regularly to carry out joint activities that make everybody’s work more efficient.

Although Canadian AIDS service organizations (ASOs) widely share materials with each other, we felt that some great resources were slipping through the cracks. We wanted to (a) gather a larger pool of resources to share and use, and, (b) flag what is missing and most needed, as a kind of map for developing new materials. So we called up agencies from coast to coast and asked: “What do you use? What could you use?”

We gathered quite a collection. Many of the materials are well known and widely used — we’ve highlighted some in previous issues. For this Positive Side, we present a few new jewels for you.

Street Drug Interactions

When asked for their wish list, many ASOs said they need the dirt on drug interactions — specifically between street / recreational drugs and HIV meds. This info may seem hard to come by, but it is out there. Look no further:

Medical Drug Interactions with Street Drugs: A resource by and for drug users. Not Canadian, but this little gem of a pamphlet from Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution (NEED) in Berkeley, California, is written in seriously street-smart, no-bs language — something drug users can relate to. For an online version: (click on “resources”).

For more technical info, the Toronto Hospital Immunodeficiency Clinic has produced extensive lists of drug interactions, including Postulated Interactions with Recreational Drugs. To find out how HIV meds mix with rec drugs — from alcohol to THC — go to (click on “Drug Interaction Tables” under “Medical Information for Health Care Professionals”). These lists contain a lot of dense data — you may want to flag them to your health care provider or local ASO.

Don’t forget CATIE’s own harm-reduction how-to for drug users: pre*fix: harm reduction for + users. Loaded with useful, user-friendly info — from safe shooting to co-infection to pain management — it’s available in English and French at or by calling 1.800.263.1638.

Newly Diagnosed?

When someone’s just been diagnosed with HIV, well… you may know how it feels. The needs of newbies are widely varied, but at some point most people want a standard “now that you’re positive” reference guide. The challenge is finding the “Goldilocks” version — not too much info, but not too little. Since we all have our own idea of what’s just right, it’s good to have a few options to choose from. Many respondents cited CATIE’s bilingual Managing your health as their “bible” — the must-have resource for every PHA’s shelf. Here are a couple of other care guides specifically for Canadian HIV newbies:

The HIV Care Program at Windsor Regional Hospital offers up Think Positive: A Guide to Healthy Living. This six-module booklet covers lots of self-care issues, with significant sections on the medical aspects of HIV infection, treatment and managing health problems. At 38 pages, it’s easy to swallow. Go to, e-mail or dial 519.254.6115.

Opening Doors to Self Care, from the Conception Bay North AIDS Interest Group in Newfoundland, is a very approachable guide to diagnosis, medication, nutrition, emotional care and more. If I could turn back the clock to when I was diagnosed, this book would have been a real comfort, with its personal anecdotes and gentle, reassuring tone. At 116 pages, it’s thorough but not daunting… plus, there’s a recipe for stuffed moose steak! A new printing is due out in late 2005. For copies, contact CBNAIG at or 1.877.596.4433 (you’ll need to pay for postage).

Aboriginal Peoples with HIV

Chee Mamuk, the Aboriginal program of the B.C. Centres for Disease Control, has produced several series of extremely readable and highly informative pamphlets on HIV — with words and images that speak to First Nations peoples. The Aboriginal HIV Pamphlet Series and the Women’s HIV Pamphlet Series can be found at (click "Sexual health," then "Programs," then "Chee Mamuk Aboriginal Program") or by calling 604.660.0584 (you’ll need to pay for the pamphlets and postage).

Drug coverage can be a bewildering tangle of red tape. The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) offers a bilingual guide to drug and health care coverage. HIV & the Non-insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program for Aboriginal People in Canada is a practical guide to native health coverage that includes notes on variations between provinces. Find it online at (click “Resources,” then “Fact Sheets”) or call 1.888.265.2226.

French Language

Most of us are familiar with the wonderful array of fact sheets from the folks at the New Mexico AIDS InfoNet. Current and concise, they’re available in English and Spanish at

Note: If you cannot access online documents, call CATIE toll-free at 1.800.263.1638. Staff will print and send the document to you.