If an archaeologist at some distant point in the future wanted to explore what living with HIV (remember HIV?) was like in the first decade or two of the 21st century, they could do a lot worse than visit today’s top ten list. Like our lives, it runs the gamut – from sex to science and everything in between. It was arguably the most varied site about HIV out there. It set out, very deliberately, to explore the infinite variety within our poz lives which were never ALL about HIV but about life.
1."Fuck Poz Guys!" by Marc-André LeBlanc
Originally published in 2013 – and that date is important – this article was truly groundbreaking. It’s also arguably one of the most important stories we ever carried. It predates much of the science which later confirmed that people living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load can’t transmit the virus to their sexual partners. Informed community voices like that of Marc-André LeBlanc were way ahead of every AIDS Service Organization on the planet. None saw the writing on the wall that later came to rest as U=U. If ever there was a post that demonstrated community often knows best, this was it.
2.BareBackRT.com - the Interview by Bob Leahy
This article raised some eyebrows when it was first published in PositiveLite.com in May 2014. It quickly racked up the numbers to become our second most read article ever. Why? It’s rare for owners of hookup sites that facilitate condomless sex, a taboo of the time, to emerge from the shadows. But the man behind BarebackRT.com, a guy from Tucson, Arizona approached us to talk about sexual health, condomless sex and disclosure issues. This he did with great candour. The article continues to do well to this day and is even featured on the BarebackRT.com website.
3.Surrendering my Toaster? By Ken Monteith
Some articles succeed because they speak to universal experiences. Montrealer Ken Monteith is funny but astute in this wry confession. “I was saved from the notion that I might have to return the toaster over my lack of sexual activity by a friend who delightedly informed me that I might in a practical sense stop being a homosexual, but that I would always be VERY gay. . . Maybe we can measure my gay status against the top issues of the day on the “gay agenda”.”
4.Superfoods by CATIE
PositiveLite.com has enjoyed a long and glorious relationship with CATIE, Canada’s premier source for information about HIV and HepC. We frequently republished their best articles, including this one from The Positive Side. It’s the kind of article that does well as a sustained target of google searches about living healthily with HIV, rather than from an immediate surge of readers on publication.
5.Medical Marijuana Updates by HALCO
We were fortunate to be on good terms with dozens of parties who encouraged us to share their news releases, etc. HALCO was a regular guest contributor. This article from 2014 has been widely referenced ever since its original publication.
6.HIV: a Straight Man’s Perspective by Joshua Middleton
Despite being originally published on his own blog and doing well there, this sensitive article by regular contributor Joshua Middleton (he subsequently came out as gay) became a seminal article expressing what HIV is like for straight guys. “Though HIV continues to infect heterosexuals daily” he said, “it almost seems like a non-existent conversation, out of sight and mind. As an HIV + straight male this is troublesome and is one of the main reasons I strive to share my story wherever and whenever I can.”
Dave R. from the Netherlands was one of our most prolific and successful writers, turning in well-researched articles which often merged HIV and pop culture. (He was also a recognized expert on peripheral neuropathy). Those googling for information on Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s lead singer’s battle with AIDS will inevitably land on this excellent feature article.
8.Semen goes Viral – or Does It? by Bob Leahy
This one from 2012, based on my own review of the scientific evidence, debunked the oft repeated argument that HIV virus may be preset in the semen when it is undetectable in the blood, rendering an undetectable (blood) viral load of limited value. I argued, correctly, this “virus in the semen” issue was a red herring for five years before everybody else bought in.
Who knows why this one did so well. In our earlier days we frequently used to review new sexual health campaigns. This one from Germany was from the misguided “always use a condom” school of HIV prevention when campaigns were both prescriptive and chose to ignore science. I’m guessing its imaginative use of cartoons caught readers eyes’, or else it popped up frequently in google searches. Note that it’s a fun post and illustrates in part why we chose ‘lite” as part of the site name – and its early identity.
10.Tom Hanks in Philadelphia Changed my Life by Bob Leahy
For a long time, this was our number one post. It’s a highly personal story, a pivotal moment in my own journey that tells the story of why I came out as HIV-positive decades ago. I still tell pf this moment to this day when I share my story in public. “So.....not long after seeing the movie I came clean with my employer. It went better than I had thought it would, and in truth I rather liked my first little foray into activism. The rest is history.”