The holidays are nearly here! I love this time of year, but like a lot of people, I often de-emphasize the “Christmasy” side of it when speaking because I don't want to inadvertently alienate anyone. Still, this time of year is undeniably special, at least in this part of the world. The lights, the cold and the smell of evergreen – I love it. The ritual tit-for-tat of usual daily abuse doesn’t stop but it does slow down and even seems to pause and for a little while people really do seem less disposed to bonk one another over the head. Carnage takes a breather and a measure of peace can be felt. It’s nice. I like it.
So whatever terms are used, what’s most important to me right now is that you know our very best wishes for the holiday season go out to all of you, as do our thanks.
From the get-go, it’s been an eventful year in the HIV sector, here in Canada and internationally, with many challenges but with much to celebrate. Canada approved generic pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), with Ontario becoming the second province after Quebec to include PrEP in its public drug plan. We saw some, but not nearly enough, movement on the criminalization reform front. But perhaps more than anything else 2017 has been the year of #UequalsU – the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign.
On the personnel front, I took over as Editor of PositiveLite.com while Bob Leahy moved into the Publisher’s slot left open by our Publisher Emeritus John McCullagh. Bob also became the go-to guy for U=U in Canada and points abroad, further entwining the two organizations as our advocacy efforts ramped up even more and kept us at least as busy as our news coverage did.
"People living with HIV present no sexual HIV risk to anybody once their viral load is supressed. It was time to dispel the myth that we do."
The result? An incredible chain reaction. 550 organizations from 70 countries have signed on to share the U=U message in ways that work for their communities. And here in Canada, our chief public health officer has endorsed U=U (and lauded the campaign) and Canada’s top doctors in every province and territory are on record as supporting ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’.
People living with HIV present no sexual HIV risk to anybody once their viral load is supressed. It was time to dispel the myth that we do. So although much of the world may continue to tell itself fairy tales about people living with HIV, they won’t be telling that one. Coz we won’t let them, will we?
See what people living with HIV can achieve together?
PositiveLite.com has continued to lead the way in talking about prevention and in fact we have been instrumental in developing science based messaging and knowledge sharing around the risk of transmission and U=U in particular, which has permeated the entire network of agencies working in HIV prevention.
We made a splash in Paris at IAS 2017, rebuilt our website and also won the award for “Canada’s Most Influential HIV Website” for the fifth year in a row.
These are just a few of the things we’ve been up to this year. This isn’t an exhaustive list. In Wayne Bristow (Social Media) and Bob Leahy (Publisher) I have the best team mates ever and it’s an absolute middle-age blast that I get to work with them as well as our fantastic roster of contributing writers. I’m also supremely grateful to PositiveLite.com founder Brian Finch for having had the courage and the prescience to get the whole thing started.
But you are the reason for our success and the reason why we’re here.
PositiveLite.com is first and foremost a labor of love made by and for people living with HIV. First, last and always, it’s a celebration of who we are, with an eye to who we can be. Or at least that's how I see it.
I hope that what we do here helps give the HIV narrative back to the people who are living it. And if my work at PositiveLite.com helps in any measure to improve the lives of people living with HIV, then that’s just about the best present I could ask for.
So please accept our best wishes for the holiday season from all of us at PositiveLite.com, along with our thanks.
2018 beckons and it seems there’s reason for optimism, however cautious. And life remains life, with ample reason to celebrate wherever we look, if we look. It’s easier to find when we look together.