The PositiveLite.com team last week: (left to right) Rob Olver, Wayne Bristow, John McCullagh and Bob Leahy
Noted community activist John McCullagh is relinquishing the PositiveLite.com publisher’s chair effective March 1. The move is designed to free up more time for his busy schedule of other activities, notably as chair of CATIE.
Current editor Bob Leahy from Warkworth, Ontario becomes the new PositiveLite.com publisher but will remain involved in editorial decisions. He will continue to write for the publication as well as remain active in the advocacy roles for which PositveLite.com has become well known, notably the U=U campaign. Assistant editor Rob Olver from Peterborough, Ontario moves up to editor. Wayne Bristow from Guelph, Ontario remains social media coordinator extraordinaire.
“I'm stepping down as publisher of PositiveLite.com only because I'm getting older and don't have as much energy as I used to” says John. “I want to put what energy remains to me into what I'm most passionate about - working directly with people living with and affected by HIV, and with those who serve them.
“As publisher of PositiveLite.com, I'm most proud to have helped to provide a space for people living with HIV to share their thoughts and opinions about things that are important to them. I'm also proud that we've been early advocates of what are called "new HIV prevention technologies", that is Treatment as Prevention and PrEP. Being an independent voice meant that we could be among the first to publicly address, when it was still controversial, what medical science now confirms to be true: that sex with an HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load is very safe sex indeed. Another highlight of my time with the magazine was my three-part interview with Len Tooley, the first guy in Canada to publicly acknowledge being on PrEP.”
“Publishing PositiveLite.com has been a labour of love. That we've managed, while I've been publisher, to put online two fresh articles every day is a tribute to our contributors and readers and to our small team of Ontario-based volunteer staff - Bob Leahy, Rob Olver and Wayne Bristow.”
“While I'm personally moving on from a direct role in running the magazine, with Bob, Rob and Wayne in charge I know that PositiveLite.com is in good hands, and will remain an important voice for people living with HIV, both in Canada and abroad.”
John McCullagh was the publisher of PositiveLite.com from 2012 to 2017. He has worked for over 35 years as a counsellor, youth worker and educator with gay men and queer youth, and with those living with, at risk for, and/or affected by HIV. He was one of the founders of the Toronto Counselling Centre for Lesbians and Gays (now a program of Family Service Toronto that has been renamed David Kelley Services), and was a counsellor there throughout the first decade of the AIDS epidemic. Now retired, John is currently the chair of the board of directors of CATIE, Canada's national HIV and hepatitis C information provider, and volunteers with ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto), where he is a peer researcher, and where he also facilitates an ongoing series of psycho-educational workshops on aging well with HIV.
PositiveLite.com, a unique social media model, is an entirely volunteer driven organization by and for people living with HIV that operates without government funding. It was founded in 2008 by Toronto’s Brian Finch, and has since grown its global audience and received a number of prestigious awards for its reach and influence. It has no offices, but rather operates out of the homes of its unpaid principals.
Bob Leahy will be coaching Rob Olver as Rob grows in to the editor’s role. Says Rob “Since my diagnosis, PositiveLite.com has been my teacher, my window and the main vehicle for my activism in the HIV continuum.
"Truth wins. I’m the son of a journalist and have always believed in the role of strong, free and independent journalism in HIV advocacy. PositiveLite.com exemplifies these values."
"I love the level of commitment and passion of the people I’m working with and it’s a huge honour for me to take over the reins as editor of PositiveLite.com."”