Living with HIV

HIV & Wonder Woman: One Is Lying About it’s Age, And One Doesn’t Look It

published: July, 15, 2011 Categories // Arts and Entertainment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces

30 years of HIV, and 70 years of Wonder Woman. Michael Burtch, the tattooed activist, knows which one he’d rather celebrate.

The discovery of HIV 30 years ago this June, the unjust vilification of ‘patient zero’ as a result, and the often ignored contribution that colonialism and colonial abuse played in helping HIV spread;  it’s hard to know what to do with such a complicated, and painful anniversary.  In the last 30 years, almost 30 million people have lost their lives due to AIDS-related illnesses and 34 million are infected.  (That death toll is a lot higher when you remember that HIV is a l

My Anniversary by Sven Paardekoopere

published: July, 10, 2011 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Living with HIV

Occasionally PositiveLite receives unsolicited posts which, depending on the subject matter, we are happy to consider for publication. Here’s an interesting one from a Dutch reader, author and social network devotee.

You know what’s funny?  I never thought I would be writing this today.  Seriously, I figured I would be dead by now.   Ever since I was a wee little Dutch boy I had this vision of dying by my 30th birthday.  Never really bothered me or frightened me; it was just this notion.   With that said, the day I was handed my HIV test results (two months before my 30th) I couldn’t help but remember that notion and wonder if my time had indeed come.  My di

New musical takes no prisoners in exploring the realities of Living with HIV in 2011

published: July, 08, 2011 Categories // Gay Men, Arts and Entertainment, Theatre, Living with HIV, Bob Leahy - Publisher

Bob Leahy reviews Christopher Wilson's powerful new play Living with Henry at the Toronto Fringe Festival this week and says “Go see it”

New musical takes no prisoners in exploring the realities of Living with HIV in 2011

Living with Henry, the new musical about living with HIV (yes, you read that right) that opened last night at Toronto’s George Ignatieff Theatre has one of the boldest, cleverest and most well executed theatrical devices I've seen in years.  The clue is in the show's title.  Henry is in fact HIV. Introduced early on as the"roommate” of Michael, the protagonist of this piece, his role as the virus itself is not only a key one, but is played perfectly by Dale Miller, whose bra

Blood And Ink: HIV And Tattooing

published: July, 08, 2011 Categories // Living with HIV

Michael Burtch: “If there is one thing I hate, it’s people wearing Ed Hardy Wear with no visible tattoos. And if there is one question I’ve come to loath, it’s “What do your tattoos mean?””

It’s usually the sign that the person who is asking is one of the 76% of Canadian’s who are not tattooed. A cultural tourist. And yet, I’ve started to ask my poz friends with tattoos a similar question. What does it mean that the HIV+ are over represented in tattoo culture? For many, the tattoo is a metaphor of difference, and history and popular culture have long associated  the tattoo with danger, two concepts familiar to any HIV+ person.  The permanence of tattoos and the pe

This Is What Sex-Positivity Looks Like

published: June, 24, 2011 Categories // Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Sex and Sexuality

Capital Xtra’s AIDS Activist of the Year Michael Burtch and the photo shoot that didn’t go quite the way he planned.

The invitation said to dress in your ’super-hero finest’. In January I won the AIDS Activist of the Year Hero Award from Ottawa’s Capital Xtra, after having been nominated three years in a row by the paper, and was having my photo taken for a two page centre spread.   I arrived at Flamingo Bar to have my photo taken with three other activists. Our photos were to be spliced into a larger group shot with another photo taken the day before, through the magic of photo shop. The the

Artist Andrew Gayed Interviewed

published: May, 09, 2011 Categories // Art, Arts and Entertainment, Living with HIV, Sex and Sexuality

Michael Burtch chats with the twenty-one year old Ottawa photographer about his piece ‘4 Pills Once Daily’, getting hate mail, anuses, and why waiting can sometimes help make better art

(This piece is best read in conjunction with Michael’s earlier entry about the work Andrew Gayed featured him in here.)   Can you talk about the process and camera you used to construct ‘4 Pills Once Daily‘?Supplementary research was made to have a better understanding of the issue. I had an idea of what the series would look like, so I took some initial photos with a 'stand-in' model to decide various compositional elements. Then I interviewed my model to gage a personal accou

Six Tips for Choosing your HIV Doctor

published: April, 25, 2011 Categories // Health, Living with HIV, Mark S. King

We get to meet Mark S King’s doctor, who walks us through what to look for in finding HIV and primary care

Six Tips for Choosing your HIV Doctor

I had to say goodbye to my doctor recently. I was moving out of state, and Dr. David Morris of Pride Medical Group in Atlanta had been nothing but a patient, supportive teacher to me. Over the years he’s seen me through Hepatitis C, a few crystal meth drug relapses and three boyfriends. I love him and what he’s done for me, and I hated the prospect of finding a replacement in Florida. Fortunately, Dr. Morris agreed to give me some tips to make the process easier, and in this video episode

4 Pills Once Daily: Andrew Gayed’s Body Of Art

published: April, 07, 2011 Categories // Activism, Art, Arts and Entertainment, Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces

Michael Burtch bares all - includes a NSFW link

Last month artist Andrew Gayed approached me about participating in a project addressing HIV-stigma and sex-positivity. Andrew’s goal was to explore HIV as something greater then a medical diagnoses, to look at how sex-negativity helped contribute to increasing HIV rates, and to examine the societal stigmatization of HIV positive people. The outcome of our two hour recorded interview and two hour long photo shoot has emerged, and it’s now available to view here. (A warning: this

What it feels like for a Mom

published: April, 06, 2011 Written by // Mark S. King - My Fabulous Disease Categories // Living with HIV, Mark S. King

Mark S King and his mother talk familial support systems for people living with HIV

What it feels like for a Mom

How does our HIV status affect the ones who love us most? What fears are they not telling us? I’ve always wondered, so I sat my mother down for an interview about my HIV, what it was like raising two gay sons, and how it affected the family when we experienced our own AIDS tragedy. She never flinched at the questions, and her answers are sincere and revealing I was standing at the ticket counter of the movie theatre and couldn’t believe my ears. They were telling me that “Theatre of Bloo

My Sister

published: April, 04, 2011 Categories // Living with HIV

Ottawa poz guy Michael Burtch reveals that the ties that bind don't always bind when it comes to disclosing your status to family.

You brace yourself for the worst, to be hurt by poorly chosen words, insensitive questions, accusations, anger and blame. You hope for an embrace and compassion, you wonder if you’ll cry if she tells you she loves you, and is afraid of losing you. You weigh the outcomes and then wonder how, or if, you’ll even tell her. But when she does find out, you find yourself unprepared for her response.You never anticipated silence. It’s deafening. Made all the louder by others who do call, who e-m

Losses and Gains

published: April, 04, 2011 Categories // Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces

Montrealer Ken Monteith suggests you don’t have to become HIV-positive to improve your lot in life, but sometimes it actually helps.

Losses and Gains

This week marks an anniversary of sorts for me. Ten years since I made the decision to resign from the Bar and let go of that official status that I spent so much time and effort acquiring and maintaining. Not an easy decision, but one probably made more inevitable by my HIV status and my own expectations about my longevity and my immediate future. Chalk that one up as a loss. Now I don’t consider myself to be a particularly spiritual person, but we in the AIDS movement often talk about (or

Inflammation in HIV Disease

published: March, 26, 2011 Categories // Aging, General Health, Health, Living with HIV

Devan Nambiar says the bottom line is that the cause of inflammation is unclear and is likely multifactorial. Further research is needed to improve quality of life, minimize degenerative diseases and co-morbidity in HIVers on HAART

Inflammation is a hot topic and of much concern for many PHAs. However the findings from various research do not provide specific answers but have at least started to look beyond HIV viral load and CD4+. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): Research in ongoing HIV disease has found many factors that cause inflammation on a cellular level in the body. We know untreated HIV infection causes a state of intense chronic inflammation, which co-relates with early onset of cardiovascular disease in HIV infec

Of Charts and Geekery: Following the progress of my treatment

published: March, 25, 2011 Categories // Health, Treatment, Living with HIV

Montreal HIVer Ken Monteith shows us his numbers, what they mean and how he tracks them

Of Charts and Geekery: Following the progress of my treatment

One of the biggest challenges in HIV treatment adherence is centred on how the meds can make you feel while they are doing their job on the virus within. If you have diabetes and need insulin, the effect of not having it is obviously negative, and the effect of having it is obviously positive. So what do you do when you can’t tell if your meds are working, especially if they actually come with side effects that make you feel worse? The answer I have found is to turn to a spreadsheet. But the

Diagnosis; How I learned I had AIDS - Updated March 21, 2011

published: March, 21, 2011 Categories // Health, Living with HIV

A bad cough that turned in to a nightmare: this is how, in 1997, Montrealer Ken Monteith discovered he had AIDS - and just four T-cells.

Diagnosis; How I learned I had AIDS - Updated March 21, 2011

                       On the20th, I had trouble breathing. The symptoms were coughing to the point of running out of breath, hard to stay standing, fighting to return to bedroom, falling to bed, breaking glasses on the way down. I woke up later, coughing again. The woman at Info Santé spoke in difficult English. She offered only two choices of clinics; both were far away for a winter day and open for only short hours. I left her thinking that she had helped me, but I did

Who knows exactly WHEN they were infected?

published: March, 14, 2011 Categories // Health, Living with HIV

Montrealer Ken Monteith refuses to speculate who was the source of his HIV infection, but still wonders about when it happened

Who knows exactly WHEN they were infected?

I started this blog as the story of one person’s experience of living with AIDS, shortly after the ninth anniversary of my diagnosiis. The story starts with my diagnosis and a refusal to speculate on the source of my infection. I find myself less and less satisfied with that as a starting point, as my baseline CD4+ count attests to the fact that it all started long before that. But when? I want to be very careful not to turn this revision into a search for someone on whom to lay blame. I don

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