By Debbie Koenig
For most people, an HIV diagnosis marks a turning point they’ll never forget. Many clearly recall the shock, fear, worry: What will people think? How will it affect my relationships? For some, it’s not as big a deal, but everyone—whether it was yesterday or 30 years ago—remembers the moment.
Looking back, you might wish you had known then what you know now—that life goes on, that meds aren’t the nightmare they once were, that you’d still be you. Who could have imagined that science would one day show that if one’s HIV is undetectable, you don’t pass it on to your sex partners! We celebrate this in the article “U=U.”
We ask two people living with HIV: “What is the one thing you wish you had known when first diagnosed?” Brittany and Tyler share their wisdom in this edition of Chatty CATIE. If you are struggling with your diagnosis, we hope their insights reassure you; if you’re a long-term survivor, hopefully it will give you pause to reflect on how far you’ve come.
So, what helps with the journey? What we keep hearing from PS readers is that it’s all about getting connected—to other people with HIV, support, community.
When activist Ian Bradley-Perrin, who graces the cover, was diagnosed in 2010 he was already well versed in HIV and working in the field, so the news wasn’t exactly earth-shattering. But because he had supportive people in his life and a strong sense of community, he describes that turning point as a “magical moment” when everything came together (see profile by Sarah Liss).
That is not to say that there aren’t real challenges. Despite huge progress on the scientific front, stigma remains all too real. Kath Webster speaks to three women about their stigma stories and Sané Dube investigates how the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure impacts African, Caribbean and Black communities in Canada.
We hope you enjoy this summer issue of The Positive Side! And we hope that PS plays a small part in keeping you connected to the diverse people living with HIV.
We always love hearing from you. Do you have feedback on this issue? A topic you’d like to read about? A story to share? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org