The Positive Side

Spring/Summer 2004 

Readers’ Corner

Feeling Groovy

APART FROM THE FACT that Judy Weiser’s writing is so well crafted, focused, clear and accessible, I found her article very helpful (“How Does It Feel?” fall / winter 2003). It reminded me of all that I’ve done for myself through these many years with HIV to LIVE as healthily as possible. I felt validated in having greatly influenced HIV’s effect on me. It also reminded me of the importance of “staying the course” — an encouragement I need as I occasionally find myself wandering off track. This article very positively affected my day… which, of course, leads to the next!

David N.

Lipo Lines

A BIG THANK YOU to Wayne Stump for putting into words what I’ve been feeling lately (“In Your Face,” fall / winter 2003). I was struck by Stump’s candour and the way he expressed himself. I, too, have the “lipo-look” and I’m considered no longer “passable” in the community.

Since my facial appearance has changed I’ve become more sensitized to how acutely aware I am of how Toronto’s positive community subdivides itself: those on meds vs. those not on meds, those working vs. those on disability, those with lipo vs. those without… and so on. The downside has certainly been a loss of self, a loss of control (my HIV status being “outed” by lipo) and a devalued caché or gay currency (if you can call it that) in this image-conscious gay community.

The one silver lining I’ve observed in my own experience is that since I’ve become more withdrawn due to my lipo I’ve had to learn to spend more time with myself and explore the non-physical (or spiritual) side of me. Having lipo has also given me the ability to be more empathetic to the plight of others. Alas, the loss of intimacy at times far outweighs any physical loss — a fact of life that’s hard to get used to.

I see our American contemporaries scrambling for quick-fix solutions (Bio-Alcamid, silicone, artecoll injections) and I often wonder if a cosmetic solution could somehow lessen the impact of “branding” that lipo has on one’s psyche / identity.

Rob C.

AS I READ Wayne Stump’s article, I felt like I was reading my own story. I’ve been on the same meds for more than five years and lipo has left its footprints on my face. However, I’m grateful for the health that I continue to have. I’ve lost many friends, and I’ve found that the best way for me to honour their lives was to pick up their torches and carry on the work so many of them had started.

As a peer counsellor at Living Positive in Edmonton, I talk to people about living with HIV — how it’s not fun and it’s a lot of work but certainly NOT the end of the world. A few years ago, I put together a project called The Living Quilt — a huge generic quilt with people’s names on ribbons. Each ribbon is pinned to the quilt with a button that has the number of years they’ve been living with HIV (currently ranging from 1 to 23). It’s a powerful, tangible image showing people that they’re not alone and that they still have a future.

Thank you for also reminding me that I’m not alone.

Gil C.

The Name Game

I LIKE YOUR MAGAZINE and the wealth of information it offers to HIV positive people and those who have been diagnosed with AIDS, and to the professionals who work in this field. I’d like to offer a suggestion concerning the use of the acronym PHAs. Your magazine is directed at people who are HIV positive but not necessarily diagnosed with AIDS, so why not call them “Positive People”? It’s more politically correct, more empowering and less stigmatizing than “PHAs.”

Keep up the good work. We all look forward to the next issue and find the magazine to be so useful and empowering to our positive clients.

Ken Salter
Coordinator, Prison Outreach Support Services and Education Program
The AIDS Society of Kamloops, BC

PS RESPONDS: Thank you for your positive feedback. The magazine is intended for all people living with HIV — whether they’re asymptomatic, symptomatic or diagnosed with AIDS. We’ve adopted the acronym PHA (which stands for People with HIV/AIDS) because it’s inclusive, concise and commonly used. The last thing we’d want is for readers to feel stigmatized by our use of this acronym.

Please drop us a line with your comments about The Positive Side. We can’t promise to run your letter, but if we do, we’ll be in touch, so be sure to provide your contact information.

Send letters to The Positive Side via:

  mail: 555 Richmond Street West, #505, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3B1

  fax: 416.203.8284


Photo: Jacob Peters

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