The Positive Side

Summer 2014 

Editor's Letter

By David McLay


Artists know that light—and dark—play a crucial role in producing an engaging, inspiring work of art. Brightness draws the eye (or ear) and can be joyful or punchy, while darkness can provide restful contrast or challenge us to seek meaning in subtleties. Life with HIV certainly has its moments of light and dark. This issue of The Positive Side has a strong artistic sense that reflects that range.

The lineup kicks off with “From the Front Lines” reporting on art and art therapy programs for people with HIV. Artistic expression can be a fun way to pass some time, but it can also be a profound process of exploring thoughts and feelings. “Visual AIDS” shares the story of Peggy Frank’s seven-foot sculpture of a cocktail glass, which is at once whimsical and sobering.

The art of life with HIV contains bright threads, and we explore one of them in our article on peer mentorship programs, in which people with HIV help each other navigate the complexities of healthcare. Also, “The Push for a Cure” looks at the bright spots in ongoing cure research.

There are somber threads, too. In an extended instalment of “Ask the Experts,” Yvette Perrault talks to four people who know grief intimately about the impact of HIV-related grief. “In Your Face: AIDS Posters Confront Stigma” looks back at over 30 years of poster art to see how artistic expression—there’s that art theme popping up again—has evolved to counter the changing yet still devastating effects of stigma faced by people with HIV.

And there are threads that mix light and dark. This issue of “Chatty CATIE” asks people with HIV: Who is your AIDS icon? Several people highlight the inspiration they draw from those long gone despite their sense of loss and sadness. And the stories of Kath Webster, who graces our cover, and Joseph Babcock, our artist profile, reveal how these inspiring people refuse to let the dark overpower the light.

I hope you enjoy this issue of our little magazine. As always, send your stars and cherry bombs to We love to hear from you.