Samantha

Samantha

My name is Samantha and I live in British Columbia, Canada. I am an ordinary woman trying my best on the dating scene as a woman living with HIV to connect with men for intimacy, a relationship and the kind of satisfying sex I used to have before my diagnosis. 

During the day I teach at a local school and am involved in HIV prevention work for special occasions and during our spring break week where we set up community kiosks for students. I speak with students about HIV facts, and provide the latest information relating to HIV research to demystify HIV while attempting to eliminate fear and stigma. 

My stories posted on PositiveLite.com will provide a better understanding of the complexities of disclosure and how they are interconnected and impact aspects of our lives while working to normalize HIV and experience more positive disclosures. Although I write from the perspective of a woman, and will explain through story telling how disclosure complexities are somewhat different for women, I do recognize some common themes for all people living with HIV. 

I look forward to sharing my stories, connecting with people living with HIV who are having similar experiences, integrating disclosure into daily conversations within all communities and learning from others through their feedback and comments. 

Who are heterosexual women acquiring HIV from? Are heterosexual women's partners a hidden population?

published: September, 21, 2017 Written by // Samantha Categories // Social Media, Dating, featured, Gay Men, Women, International , Legal, Living with HIV, Media, Opinion Pieces, Sex and Sexuality , Samantha

Samantha: We need to dare to address the unspoken dynamic of how women acquire HIV.

Who are heterosexual women acquiring HIV from? Are heterosexual women's partners a hidden population?

Women represent 50% of the population of people living with HIV globally, yet there has been little research or sharing of information about who heterosexual woman acquire the HIV virus from. There is focus on stressors attributing to women living with HIV, including intimate partner violence, gender inequality, unequal power dynamics within relationships, race, ethnicity, poverty, education and various social disparities. Yet, there is little information about men as active participants other

“I would not have consented to sex had I known of their HIV status.” This statement is problematic and here’s why.

published: July, 05, 2017 Written by // Samantha Categories // Social Media, Conferences, Current Affairs, Mental Health, Women, Legal, Living with HIV, Media, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

"How can the general public insist upon disclosure when they set the tone and grounds for unsuccessful disclosure?" Samantha offers her takeaway from " Rethinking Justice: the 7th Symposium on HIV Law and Human Rights."

 “I would not have consented to sex had I known of their HIV status.” This statement is problematic and here’s why.

On June 15, 2017 the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network held a symposium in Toronto, Ontario, Rethinking Justice: the 7th Symposium on HIV Law and Human Rights. The symposium focused on unjust HIV criminal legislation in Canada. Canada unfortunately has one of the worst records in the world for the overly broad use of criminal laws to address HIV nondisclosure. Panels of experts and those with lived experience of HIV criminalization presented their research and experiences. The legal experts di

People who maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV says BC's Julio Montaner.

published: November, 07, 2016 Written by // Samantha Categories // Social Media, As Prevention , Activism, Treatment Guidelines -including when to start, Current Affairs, Research, Women, Health, Treatment, Living with HIV, Samantha

Our Samantha reports on a recent encounter with Canada's leading expert on the impact of antiretroviral therapy, who confirms the Undetectable = Uninfectious message that people living with HIV have been waiting for

People who maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV says BC's Julio Montaner.

I was recently present at McGill University in Montreal to hear Dr Julio Montaner speak about Treatment as Prevention (TasP).  For those who are not aware, Dr. Montaner is a well known Argentinian-born Canadian physician, professor, researcher and a strong advocate for people living with HIV. He is the Director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the chair in AIDS Research and Head of the Division of AIDS in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia

Repeat after me: undetectable equals uninfectious

published: September, 07, 2016 Written by // Samantha Categories // Social Media, Activism, As Prevention , Treatment Guidelines -including when to start, Research, Women, International , Legal, Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Samantha

Our Samantha on why the Prevention Access Campaign and Undetectable = Uninfectious should matter to all people living with HIV

Repeat after me: undetectable equals uninfectious

The science  - and fears of reckless sex I am celebrating the news that treatment as prevention means people living with HIV, on treatment with an undetectable viral load, cannot transmit the HIV virus. That fact is celebrated too by the Prevention Access Campaign and its high profile supporters like PositiveLite.com who are finally using words like "uninfectious" and "untransmittable." to reflect what we have learned from recent research. There are many, however, even within the HIV commu

My quest to ease the pain of loss through music and a tribute to Prince

published: July, 13, 2016 Written by // Samantha Categories // Social Media, Arts and Entertainment, Mental Health, Events, Music, Travel, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Samantha

Our Samantha on the joy of healing through music."For about two weeks I spent every spare minute, sometimes sitting for hours listening to Prince’s music"

My quest to ease the pain of loss through music and a tribute to Prince

On the same day Prince was found dead, on April 21, 2016, I experienced a personal loss. Experiencing two losses in one day was so painful I did not know how to sooth myself. I paced up and down, had no concentration, couldn't sleep, eat or remain focused on anything to distract myself from the feelings that come with loss. For about two weeks I spent every spare minute, sometimes sitting for hours listening to Prince’s music and a few other artists and it was the only activity that eased m

It all began when I decided I needed life insurance

published: April, 04, 2016 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Our Samantha with a woman's perspective of being diagnosed with HIV and its aftermath

It all began when I decided I needed life insurance

"With understanding, collaboration and education, there is no need for anyone to experience those dark early paralyzing days I have described, after a diagnosis."   I popped in to a local cafe after a yoga class recently and ran into Bill, an old colleague and friend who, along with my doctor, I credit  for saving my life years ago. We had coffee and of course seeing him brought back memories from a very dark time in my life when he supported me and my kids, made some calls and connected m

Saying “I Do” in a blizzard

published: February, 01, 2016 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Our Samantha on her trip down the aisle one stormy winter’s day many years ago which ultimately led to her HIV infection

Saying “I Do” in a blizzard

I was watching the storm Jonas in the Eastern United States last week when someone mentioned how the storm impacted their wedding. This reminded me of my own wedding at the age of 18  in January 1972, during one of the worst snow storms on record.  My wedding was a last minute decision of my parents because I was pregnant. It was a family scandal that had to be addressed immediately and marriage seemed like the logical solution for my parents. They were very concerned about what family and

Rules to play by

published: November, 02, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Our Samantha takes aim at those who use the term “internalized stigma” as a negative attribute instead of recognizing that being diagnosed is a traumatic event that even has consequences on the friendships we try to maintain

Rules to play by

Definition of Trauma - Oxford English Dictionary: “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience” I hesitated for a long time about writing this and went as far as to mention to the editor how I felt as though I was whining about a topic that is all too familiar in people living with HIV. That was until I saw a conversation on social media about trauma, disclosure and variants of violence, whether it is psychological or physical, against people living with HIV.  It confirmed that my emo

Stigma Killed Eric Easy E: “Straight Outta Compton”

published: September, 07, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // African, Caribbean and Black, Arts and Entertainment, Movies, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Our Samantha reviews Straight Outta Compton, the current release about the rap group NWA that includes an HIV angle

Stigma Killed Eric Easy E: “Straight Outta Compton”

I do not profess to be a film critic. I will focus on how HIV was represented in the film Straight Outta Compton through the lens of a woman living with HIV.  Straight Outta Compton was produced by Dr Dre and Ice Cube who grew up in Compton, a city south of Los Angeles where many rappers grew up. It had a reputation for violence, gangs, hip hop and the place where rap music originated. As the film demonstrates, and contrary to mainstream beliefs, rap music is a social commentary reflectin

The politics of side effects

published: August, 11, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Youth, Women, Health, Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Giving youth a hand. Our Samantha asks “Can youth already be long term survivors?” And if so, how can we better support these young people?

The politics of side effects

I recently heard youth with HIV describing themselves as long term survivors. The group I refer to are those who were born with HIV, now in their 20's, some of whom struggle with adhering to their medication regimen. Many have become treatment-weary and struggle in similar ways to adults who are long term survivors and who would like a break from taking pills every day. At least two of the youth described how they made decisions to stop taking medication completely with the end result being

Dating site fiasco: when HIV meets herpes

published: June, 08, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Samantha

Proving that the path of true love (or dating) never runs smooth, our poz girl Samantha runs into rocky waters when she inadvertently stumbles on to an STI dating site.

Dating site fiasco: when HIV meets herpes

Dealing with the hierarchy  My thoughts before writing about this experience involved asking what the point was in whining about another negative experience involving disclosure and rejection on a dating site. Is there any benefit in writing about it?  I decided to go ahead and tell the story as I did approach this latest adventure with sincere intentions. I do not go on dating sites often and decided long ago to stay away completely from dating sites that were not exclusively for people l

To disclose or not

published: May, 11, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Samantha sometimes discloses her status, sometimes not. Today she discusses her disclosure history and in particular why not disclosing is sometimes an attractive option

To disclose or not

After being hired for a position recently I made a conscious decision NOT to disclose my HIV status. I have questioned disclosure for some time as I am not convinced disclosure is always necessary or that disclosing will alleviate burdens or stress. As a matter of fact, disclosure brings with it new issues and anxieties which we need to discuss and be aware of in order to find ways to address them and put them in perspective.  The benefits of disclosure and breaking silence include educating

Derek Canas's story

published: April, 15, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Features and Interviews, Legal, Living with HIV, Samantha

He was infected as an infant via a blood transfusion, but not diagnosed with AIDS until 16 years later. Derek, now founder of the #endthestigma campaign, tells his story to Samantha for PositiveLite.com

Derek Canas's story

Meet Derek Canas from Brunswick, Georgia, a man with a story. Intrigued, I recently talked to him for PositiveLite.com. He made his entrance into this world in 1984. Derek, who is now 30, was born with a rare heart defect and his life expectancy was expected to be no more than a few months. At three months of age  Derek underwent open heart surgery and unbeknownst to him or his medical team, he contracted HIV during multiple blood transfusions. Derek explains how everything was fairly no

How does Canada compare?

published: March, 05, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Youth, Research, Health, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Our contributor Samantha on The Link Up Project that researched the global needs and priorities of young people living with or affected by HIV and some observations on how Canada stacks up on this and other prevention initiatives.

How does Canada compare?

A global look The Link Up Project - HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: visions, voices and priorities of young people living with and most affected by HIV - was begun in 2013 by a group of global and national partners, led by Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS and Athena Network. Its purpose was to amplify the voices of young people in the development of a framework and vision for designing and implementing programs to address the needs of sexual and reproductive health a

Stigma is alive and well in spite of what we may think

published: February, 23, 2015 Written by // Samantha Categories // Women, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Samantha

Samantha says "I really want to believe that stigma related to HIV is improving and the general public and institutions are beginning to be more accepting of us and less afraid": But are they?

Stigma is alive and well in spite of what we may think

I really want to believe that stigma related to HIV is improving and the general public and institutions are beginning to be more accepting of us and less afraid. Every tine I get myself into this frame of mind, though, something happens to give me a reality check.  In 2001 I was hired for a position overseas and had a short period of time to sublet my apartment, put my belongings in storage and prepare to leave. A couple of days before my departure date I got a call from the organization a

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