The Positive Side

Spring/Summer 2005 

Editor’s Letter

By RonniLyn Pustil


VANCOUVER ARTIST JOE AVERAGE — who graces our cover along with a painting from his “Palm Tree Study” series — said something during our interview that stuck with me: “HIV saved my life in that I decided to make art my life.” (He painted the Palm Tree series when he desperately needed a vacation but wasn’t well enough and couldn’t afford to get away.) Facing his own mortality provoked Joe to spend his time doing “something I like” — so he took a risk, picked up his paintbrush and turned a hobby into his livelihood.

The rest is history. Today, Joe’s art — with its bold, graphic lines and vibrant, playful imagery — is instantly recognizable to his fellow Canadians as well as to people all over the world, many of whom first caught a glimpse of his talent at the 1996 International AIDS Conference in Vancouver. Joe created the image for the conference logo, which put him on the map. He’s won numerous awards and his work has been compared to that of the late Keith Haring, the famous American pop artist who also had HIV.

But Joe hasn’t painted in five years. Managing his health, he said, has become a full-time job and there’s no time or space in his life to produce art. His health has become his most challenging masterpiece to date.

Although HIV inspired Joe to make art his life, it’s now forced him to make his life his art. And there’s something very profound in that for each of us. Though HIV disease is largely about labs, numbers and science, managing your life with HIV disease is, ultimately, an art unto itself.

With The Positive Side, we hope to provide you with some tools for creating your very own masterpiece. In this issue: Dietitian Doug Cook serves up nutrition tips for insulin resistance. Physiotherapist Kelly O’Brien flexes the benefits of exercise. Greg Robinson puts his liver on the line. Also, read about what your pharmacist can do for you and get the scoop on clinical trials.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, so don’t be shy. Pick up your pen (or paintbrush) and drop us a line, or e-mail us at