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NEW S A ND T RE A TM E NT I N F O RM A T I O N FRO M TH E PO S ITIV E LIV IN G SO CIE T Y O F B R ITISH CO LUM BI A

ISSN 1712-8536

SEPTEMBER • OCTOBER 2018 VOLUME 20 • NUMBER 5

These boots will keep on walkin’

AIDSWALK 2018

Concern in Saskatchewan

CHIWOS

Aging & Inclusion


I N S I D E

Follow us at:  pozlivingbc  positivelivingbc

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FIGHTING WORDS

The struggles of seeing hope for your future

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COVER STORY

Thriving in difficult times, the AIDSWALK remains vital

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LET’S GET CLINICAL

A close look at recent studies focused on WLHIV

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YOUTH HEALTH ALERT Diabetes rates surge among LGBT youth

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REALIZE YOUR FULL POTENTIAL

For an aging HIV population, inclusiveness is worth fighting for

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VOLUNTEER PROFILE Volunteering at Positive Living BC

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 positivelivingbc.org

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COMBINATION THERAPY PREP AROUND THE GLOBE Biktarvy:the next star?

Stories and data from the global PrEP movement

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GIVING WELL

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BACK TALK

Finding relevancy in Profiling a long-time yesterday’s news donor and new title sponsor of the AIDSWALK, the HEU

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WHERE TO FIND HELP Listings of HIV/AIDS organizations and services

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LAST BLAST

HIV won’t slow this marathon runner down

HEALTH PROMOTION PROGRAM MANDATE & DISCLAIMER In accordance with our mandate to provide support activities and prejudice. The program does not recommend, advocate, or endorse facilities for members for the purpose of self-help and self-care, the the use of any particular treatment or therapy provided as information. Positive Living Society of BC operates a Health Promotion Program The Board, staff, and volunteers of the Positive Living Society of to make available to members up-to-date research and information BC do not accept the risk of, or the responsiblity for, damages, on treatments, therapies, tests, clinical trials, and medical models costs, or consequences of any kind which may arise or result from associated with AIDS and HIV-related conditions. The intent of the use of information disseminated through this program. Persons this project is to make available to members information they can using the information provided do so by their own decisions and access as they choose to become knowledgeable partners with hold the Society’s Board, staff, and volunteers harmless. Accepting their physicians and medical care team in making decisions to information from this program is deemed to be accepting the terms promote their health. The Health Promotion Program endeavours to of this disclaimer. provide all research and information to members without judgment or P5SITIVE LIVING | 1 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Message The Positive Living Society of British Columbia seeks to empower persons living with HIV disease and AIDS through mutual support and collective action. The Society has over 5900 HIV+ members. POSITIVE LIVING EDITORIAL BOARD Joel Nim Cho Leung, co-chair, Neil Self, co-chair, Ross Harvey, Elgin Lim, Tom McAulay, Jason Motz, Adam Reibin MANAGING EDITOR Jason Motz

DESIGN / PRODUCTION Britt Permien FACTCHECKING Sue Cooper COPYEDITING Maylon Gardner, Heather G. Ross PROOFING Ashra Kolhatkar CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jason Hjalmarson, Sean Hosein, Steven Kovacev, Tom McAulay, Jason Motz, Kate Murzin, Sean Sinden PHOTOGRAPHY Britt Permien DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND EDUCATION Adam Reibin DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES Elgin Lim TREATMENT, HEALTH AND WELLNESS COORDINATOR Brandon Laviolette SUBSCRIPTIONS / DISTRIBUTION John Kozachenko, Matthew Matthew Funding for Positive Living is provided by the BC Gaming Policy & Enforcement Branch and by subscription and donations. Positive Living BC | 1101 Seymour St. Vancouver BC V6B 0R1

 Reception 604.893.2200  Editor 604.893.2206  living@positivelivingbc.org  positivelivingbc.org

Permission to reproduce: All Positive Living articles are copyrighted. Non-commercial reproduction is welcomed. For permission to reprint articles, either in part or in whole, please email living@positivelivingbc.org

© 2018 Positive Living

from the chair

words are pubBy thelished,timemythese role in the Society

will have changed making this my last “Message from the Chair.” For a variety of reasons, I am stepping away from the Chair position and moving to the Okanagan. But this is not the last you will see of me! I intend to continue participating in Positive Living BC’s governance as a Board Director. I think this will benefit the Society, as it is always the Board’s goal to increase representation among our members living beyond the Lower Mainland. I look forward to learning more about issues unique to my peers in the Okanagan. To that end, I encourage readers and members to continue to contact me at neils@positivelivingbc.org with your various concerns and suggestions. I’m happy to work with our new Chair on any matters you forward me. This is not the only big change for the Society’s operations. In case you missed the announcement in June, I am pleased to inform you of the appointment of Elgin Lim as Executive Director of Positive Living BC, effective September 2018. Elgin is well known in these parts, first starting with the Society in 2006 as Director of Positive Prevention, and then as the Director of Programs and Services in 2013. Elgin has been pivotal in growing Positive Living BC’s unique suite of member-focused activities and ensuring that our offerings are relevant, timely, and well-managed by our funders and the community at-large. The Board looks forward to working with Elgin over

P5SITIVE LIVING | 2 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018

NEIL SELF

the coming years. My fellow members and I have a bright future ahead with Elgin at the helm. I cannot end my last Message until I address two very important matters: First, the 2018 Vancouver AIDS WALK takes place September 23, starting at the Sunset Beach parking lot. (See aidswalkvancouver.ca and this issue’s cover story on page 13 for more information.) We designed this year’s event with past WALKer feedback in mind. That means going back to our roots—a simplified festival and the return of Joe Average’s iconic WALK artwork are just two elements we’re happy to offer this year. We are also thankful for the support of the Hospital Employee’s Union (HEU), who has generously signed on as the WALK’s presenting sponsor for the next two years. Last, I bid a fond and heartfelt farewell to Ross Harvey, who has served as Positive Living BC’s Executive Director since 1997. I can honestly say that Ross’s passionate, caring efforts in this role have enhanced my personal health and well-being, and that of my fellow members. Indeed, the community of PLHIV throughout our province (and beyond) has benefitted from Ross’s impassioned work on our behalf. We are grateful to have benefited from his service. Ross, we wish you all the best in your retirement. Thank you readers, members, and friends for all your support while I worked as your Board Chair. Please keep in touch. 5


Novel HIV vaccine candidate induces immune response in healthy adults and monkeys

pNew research published in The

Lancet shows that an experimental HIV-1 vaccine regimen is well-tolerated and generated comparable and robust immune responses against HIV in healthy adults and rhesus monkeys. Moreover, the vaccine candidate protected against infection with an HIV-like virus in monkeys. Based on the results from this phase 1/2a clinical trial that involved nearly 400 healthy adults, a phase 2b trial has been initiated in southern Africa to determine the safety and efficacy of the HIV-1 vaccine candidate in 2,600 women at risk for acquiring HIV. This is one of only five experimental HIV-1 vaccine concepts that have progressed to efficacy trials in humans in the 35 years of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Previous HIV-1 vaccine candidates have typically been limited to specific regions of the world. The experimental regimens tested in this study are based on mosaic vaccines that take pieces of different HIV viruses and combine them to elicit immune responses against a wide variety of HIV strains. “These results represent an important milestone. This study demonstrates that the mosaic Ad26 prime, Ad26 plus gp140 boost HIV vaccine candidate induced robust immune responses in humans and monkeys with comparable

magnitude, kinetics, phenotype, and durability and also provided 67 percent protection against viral challenge in monkeys,” says Professor Dan Barouch, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the study. He adds: “These results should be interpreted cautiously. The challenges in the development of an HIV vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily indicate that a vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection. We eagerly await the results of the phase 2b efficacy trial called HVTN705, or ‘Imbokodo’, which will determine whether or not this vaccine will protect humans against acquiring HIV.” A key hurdle to HIV vaccine development has been the lack of direct comparability between clinical trials and preclinical studies. To address these methodological issues, Barouch and colleagues evaluated the leading mosaic adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26)-based HIV-1 vaccine candidates in parallel clinical and pre-clinical studies to identify the optimal HIV vaccine regimen to advance into clinical efficacy trials. The APPROACH trial recruited 393 healthy, HIV-uninfected adults (aged 1850 years) from 12 clinics in east Africa, South Africa, Thailand, and the USA between February 2015 and October 2015. Volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either one of seven vaccine

combinations or a placebo and were given four vaccinations over the course of 48 weeks. Results showed that all vaccine regimens tested were capable of generating anti-HIV immune responses in healthy individuals and were well tolerated, with similar numbers of local and systemic reactions reported in all groups, most of which were mild-to-moderate in severity. Five participants reported at least one vaccine-related grade three adverse event such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, postural dizziness, and back pain. No grade four adverse events or deaths were reported. Source: The Lancet

Violence against women more likely after high-risk sex

pA study of the victimization of

women who were living in areas of high poverty and HIV prevalence in multiple cities across the US has shown that high-risk sex, characterized by one or more HIV risk factors, was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of physical violence against the female participant within the subsequent six months. Detailed results of this study, its broader significance in light of the larger problem of violence against women, and implications of these findings for HIV prevention initiatives are discussed in an article published in the Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available

P5SITIVE LIVING | 3 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


for free on the Journal of Women’s Health website. Source: http://www.liebertpub.com/

Gonorrhea and gender

pThe World Health Organization

estimates that 78 million people worldwide are infected with gonorrhea each year. Men with infections tend to have obvious symptoms while women are often asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms. In both men and women, the infection usually clears with antibiotic treatment. In the last decade, however, there has been an emergence of strains of antimicrobial-resistant Neisseria gonorrhea, the bacterial pathogen responsible for gonorrhea, and in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention listed drug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae as an urgent public health threat. In a new National Institute of Health-funded pilot study published in mSphere, a team led by researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine conducted the first full comparison of gonococcal gene expression and regulation in both men and women infected with N. gonorrhea, identifying gender-specific signatures in infection and in antibiotic resistance genes. “We built on our earlier work on gene expression during infection in females to include both genders in the present analysis, so we see for the first time the expression profiles during active disease in males and their

asymptomatic partners,” said Caroline A. Genco, Ph.D., Arthur E. Spiller Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology at Tufts University School of Medicine and senior and corresponding author of the study. “We found that when the bacteria are infecting the male, it’s a different gene expression profile compared to when they are infecting the female. When you consider how fundamentally different the two host environments are, this makes sense.” Until now, infection has been primarily studied in tissue culture, male human models, and mice. While these studies have provided some key information on interactions between the bacteria and the host, “they have important limitations, namely the absence of the female response in humans,” Genco added. “Studying active, natural infection in both men and women is critical to develop strategies to treat and prevent infection.” The researchers note that limitations include the small sample size and the potential variance in stages of infection in the male subjects compared to the female. A larger-scale study employing additional genetic analysis is currently underway. Source: http://www.tufts.edu/

Mozambique: only half of PLHIV enrolled in medical care

pMore than half of the people

diagnosed with HIV in Mozambique P5SITIVE LIVING | 4 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018

do not initiate steps in the cascade of HIV care, and this is especially true for those who perform the test at home. The results stem from an ISGlobal study performed in Southern Mozambique and included over 1,000 adults newly diagnosed at the clinic, either voluntarily or upon health personnel recommendation, or at their homes. Three months after diagnosis, barely 44 percent of the participants had attended a medical visit and only 25 percent had initiated antiretroviral treatment. Uptake of care and treatment was particularly low among those that were tested at hme, which represents an older and less knowledgeable population than those attending the clinic. In contrast, among those that did initiate treatment, 84 percent were still taking it 12 months later. Source: Isglobal.org/eng 5


By Tom McAulay

Ain’t no valley low enough!

I

am proud to say that I have been surviving HIV for 32 years. Though I am not yet sixty, I feel my experience with the disease qualifies me as a senior living with HIV. We are a group growing in number, and we have unique needs and concerns. Those of us who were given a “death sentence” in the early days of the crisis were not expected to still be here. The long-term affect on our bodies of various experimental treatments remains to be seen. (I still feel like a guinea pig.) My HIV experience is marked with high peaks and deep valleys. When I was first told I wouldn’t live for more than two years, I didn’t despair. I continued my studies at UBC, acquiring degrees in both Fine Arts and Architecture. It was while I was in school that I had the health scare that put me on welfare. I didn’t worry about being a drain on society because I probably wasn’t going to live to even finish school. In 1993, uncertain about my treatment future, I was overwhelmed and scared. I had no roadmap for simultaneously managing a career and my disease. This is when I became actively engaged in volunteer work with our Society—another peak. However, I burnt out after five years. That led me into the deepest valley yet. At home, bored, tired, and depressed, I found myself lost in a world of crystal meth. I spent years waiting to die. I had no hope for the future. Then somewhere in the darkest depths of heavy drug use, I had an epiphany: “I’m not dead yet.” Then a change began to manifest. I realized that despite my prognosis, my bouts with depression, or the ravages of various drugs on my body, I was still alive. And chances were I would still be alive the next day, the next month, and the next year. Just knowing you are alive isn’t enough to change life directions. It took me three years to figure out the

real issue was that I didn’t believe I had a future. It was the realization that I did in fact have a future, a reason to live if you will, that I began to believe in a future for me. That was the moment I quit using. I came out of drug use into a complete void of friends and a social life. I didn’t leave my apartment for a year—all I could do was set daily, achievable goals. Soon I started walking a neighbour’s dogs and that got me out of the house. It still took me another year before I started to talk to people and make new friends. As so many of my HIV-positive peers know, social anxiety leads to social isolation. Thankfully, there is some significant interest from funders for programming specific to seniors living with HIV. Recently, the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver received a grant to continue its drop-in Evening Program for aging gay, bi, or other men who have sex with men, who are over 50 and living with HIV. That’s a great start on a meta-level. The micro-level is also important. If you are a senior living with HIV, please take advantage of all the community services available to you. Connect with Positive Living BC programs. Volunteer with groups and causes that interest you. Be active. And remember when it comes to seeking support, it’s one thing to knock on the door; it’s another to walk through an open door. 5

Tom McAulay is a member of the History Alive Committee.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 5 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Volunteer with

Positive Living BC! Be part of something inspiring and join our enthusiastic volunteer team. Your contribution will support people living with HIV. Our members are working towards a healthy future with HIV!

For more info contact us at 604.893.2298 marcs@positivelivingbc.org www.positivelivingbc.org

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Risk higher for LGBQ Teens

L

First study to examine diabetes risk among LGBQ youth

esbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth are more likely to develop Type-2 diabetes, be obese and engage in less physical activity, and more sedentary activities than heterosexual youth, a new Northwestern Medicine study has found. The study is among the first of its kind to examine how health behaviours linked to minority stress—the day-to-day stress faced by stigmatized and marginalized populations—may contribute to the risk of poor physical health among LGBQ youth. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth may not only be at risk for worse mental health,” said lead study author, Lauren Beach, “but also worse physical health outcomes compared to heterosexual youth.” This study is the largest to date to report differences in levels of physical activities, sedentary behaviour, and obesity by sex and sexual orientation among high-school-aged students. The authors used national data from 350,673 US high school students, predominantly ranging between ages 14 and 18 years old, collected by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention as part of the Youth Risk Bahavior Survey (YRBS) to detect disparities in diabetes risk factors by sexual orientation. This study was published in the journal Pediatric Diabetes. Among the key findings, the study found that on average, sexual minority and questioning students were less likely to engage in physical activity than heterosexual students. They reported approximately one less day per week of physical activity and were 38 to 53 percent less likely to meet physical activity guidelines than heterosexual students. The number of hours of sedentary activity among bisexual and questioning students was higher than heterosexual students

(an average of 30 minutes more per school day than heterosexual counterparts.) Lesbian, bisexual, and questioning female students were 1.55 to 2.07 times more likely to be obese than heterosexual female students. “Many of these youth might be taking part in sedentary activities, like playing video games, to escape the daily stress tied to being lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning,” Beach said. “Our findings show that minority stress actually has a very broad-ranging and physical impact.” In addition, cultural and environmental factors may be at play. “Previous research has shown that body image and standards of beauty might be different among LGBQ youth compared to heterosexual populations,” Beach said. “We know very little about the physical environments of LGBQ youth. Are these youth les likely to live in areas that are safe for them to be active? We just don’t know.” These findings should not be viewed as a “doomsday” for this population, Beach said. Instead, she believes this is an opportunity to improve the health of sexual minority and questioning youth. Family support and identity affirmation, developing positive feelings and a strong attachment to a group, have been consistently linked to better health among LGBQ youth. “There is still so much we don’t know, such as what is causing these disparities and what can be done about it. It’s a completely untapped field of research,” Beach said. 5 For more info, see www.northwestern.edu

P5SITIVE LIVING | 7 | MARCH •• APRIL 2018


Biktarvy: the next star in combination therapy? Perhaps By Sean Hosein

In

July 2018, Health Canada approved the use and sale of a regimen containing the following three anti-HIV medicines: bictegravir—50 mg; TAF (tenofovir alafenamide)—25 mg and FTC (emtricitabine)—200 mg. These three drugs will be sold in a pill under the brand name Biktarvy. Manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Biktarvy is a complete treatment in one pill. It is taken once daily, with or without food, day or night. Biktarvy will be available for ordering by wholesalers and pharmacies in late August 2018. Of the three drugs in Biktarvy, only bictegravir is new. It belongs to a class of drugs called integrase inhibitors. Over the past six years, integrase inhibitors have become the cornerstone of combination therapy for HIV in Canada and other high-income countries. When used as part of HIV treatment, regimens containing an integrase inhibitor usually reduce the amount of HIV in the blood quickly, compared to other regimens. In general, integrase inhibitors are well tolerated. In clinical trials with more than 2,000 HIV-positive people, Biktarvy has been found to be similarly effective to other regimens that contain the leading integrase inhibitor dolutegravir (Tivicay and in Triumeq). Biktarvy works well in various groups of people, including women, those using HIV treatment for the first time, and those who are treatment experienced. Biktarvy was generally safe in clinical trials. Side effects that occurred were usually mild to moderate in intensity and temporary. They included: headache, diarrhea, nausea, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and abnormal dreams.

Note that the people who are typically enrolled in pivotal clinical trials of new HIV treatments are usually young and relatively healthy adults. However, once a treatment is approved and more widely available, it gets used by clinic populations that are usually not in pivotal clinical trials. These people can be older and may have other health issues—including cardiovascular disease, liver injury, kidney injury, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression—that require medications. As a result, their experience of side effects may be different than those reported in pivotal clinical trials. As with any newly licensed treatment, the full range of side effects associated with Biktarvy may not be known for at least another five years. However, the data collected so far suggests that Biktarvy is generally safe. Although Biktarvy has been tested in HIV-positive women, it has not been formally assessed for its safety in pregnant women, so its effect on the fetus and pregnancy are unknown. Gilead Sciences recommends that Biktarvy not be used during pregnancy “unless the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks to the fetus.” In the months ahead, Gilead Sciences and provincial and territorial ministries of health will be negotiating the price of Biktarvy. This process might not be completed until the spring of 2019. Check with a pharmacist to find out when Biktarvy is listed on your region’s formulary. For more information, please see www.catie.ca 5 Sean Hosein is the Science & medicine editor at CATIE.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 9 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Saskatchewan’s immune resistant HIV strains Genetic mutations “concern” researchers

The

BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) conducted research in response to reports in Saskatchewan of unusually rapid progression of HIV to AIDS-defining illnesses in the absence of treatment—revealing genetic mutations in HIV strains in that province. The study, presented in July at the 2018 AIDS Conference in Amsterdam and published in the scientific journal AIDS, shows that strains circulating in Saskatchewan have adapted to evade host immune responses. These HIV strains are being commonly transmitted and, if the resulting HIV infections are left untreated, rapid progress to AIDS-related illnesses may occur. “This is the first molecular epidemiology study of HIV in Saskatchewan and it confirms some of what we have been seeing on the ground,” said Dr. Alex Wong, an author on the study. Researchers were startled at the prevalence of immune resistance mutations. One key mutation was found in more than 80 percent of Saskatchewan HIV strains, compared with only about 25 percent of HIV strains found elsewhere in North America. The pervasiveness of such mutations is rising over time. More than 98 percent of HIV sequences collected in Saskatchewan between 2015 and 2016 harboured at least one major immune resistance mutation. HIV antiretroviral treatment, however, works against immune-resistant strains. In the 2018-19 budget, the Government of Saskatchewan announced a $600,000 investment for universal drug coverage for HIV medications, such as PrEP. “The findings of this study are concerning but the good news is, once people get tested, we can get them on life-saving treatment

immediately,” said Dr. Zabrina Brumme, the lead author on the study. “It is critical for individuals to take action to protect their health, get tested for HIV, and access HIV care and treatment immediately following a diagnosis.” The multi-year analysis compared more than 2,300 anonymized HIV sequences from Saskatchewan with data sets from sites across the United States and Canada. Genetic analyses of HIV strains from Saskatchewan showed high levels of clustering—indicating that the viruses with similar mutations are being frequently and widely transmitted. Seventy-eight percent of Saskatchewan strains reside within transmission clusters compared with only fifteen percent of HIV strains found elsewhere in North America. This study is significant as HIV incidence rates in Saskatchewan are among the highest in North America, with 2016 rates in some regions more than ten times the national average. Saskatchewan’s HIV epidemic is also unique in that nearly 80 percent of infected persons self-identify as having Indigenous ancestry. “Our finding that immune-resistant HIV strains are being commonly transmitted in Saskatchewan means that it is critical we work together to expand access to HIV testing and treatment,” said Dr. Jeffrey Joy, a study author. “We know that HIV does not stay confined to geographical clusters—it spreads. We need to work together to make HIV testing routine and stigma-free.” For more information, contact Caroline Dobuzinskis, BC-CfE Communications Director at 604.366.6540 or cdobuzin@cfenet.ubc.ca 5

P5SITIVE LIVING | 10 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


San Francisco study of at-risk groups who need PrEP

D

espite effective anti-HIV pharmaceuticals having been used worldwide for almost a decade, HIV has not been conquered. In 2016, there were an estimated 39,782 new HIV diagnoses in the US, according to San Francisco State University Associate Professor of Sociology Rita Melendez. She and three other researchers reviewed 10 years of scientific literature, 47 studies in total, to examine why the virus is still infecting people and to detect viable solutions. Their analysis was published in AIDS and Behavior and presented at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam this July. Six years ago, the use of drugs that suppress retroviruses like HIV became the dominant strategy for battling HIV in the US.

Research predicted that sexual transmission of the virus could be reduced by 96 percent if anti-HIV drug therapy was used preventatively, (the then new pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP). Yet people are still being infected. “There are a lot of gaps in who is getting PrEP and who is not,” Melendez said. “If the goal is for HIV to disappear, you need to have PrEP given in a more equitable way than it is right now.” PrEP is most commonly prescribed to white men in urban areas who have sex with other men. For a variety of reasons, other groups of people do not have the same access. In a separate multi-author paper published in Migration and Health in 2017, Melendez found that many Latino immigrants were not accessing PrEP due to years of racism, discrimination, and deportation. “We did the study after President Trump took office, so Latino immigrants were dealing with a lot of negative anti-immigration

discourse,” she explained. In addition to that gap in care, she found that African-Americans and women, in particular transgender women, also faced barriers to treatment, some due to medical providers’ perceptions. “A lot of times, medical providers think minority groups, including homeless individuals who are HIV-positive, won’t be interested in PrEP believing they might be afraid to take the medicine or be unable to take it consistently,” Melendez said. But research shows that even if PrEP is taken only three to four times a week, if can be fairly effective.

The researchers also found that medical professionals who know about PrEP and prescribe it are HIV specialists who tend to see patients who are already HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive person’s partner wants to take PrEP but tests negative for the virus, the doctor can’t prescribe it unless that person is also their patient. Melendez and the other researchers suggest interventions such as an increasing HIV and PrEP awareness in at-risk individuals, facilitating better access to PrEP, and making sure that people receiving PrEP stay in treatment. “An ideal [population] for PrEP is sex workers who know they’re going to be in situations where they may be at risk and might not have control over condom use,” Melendez said. “PrEP can be so effective if targeted.” She adds that at-risk groups should be asked and informed about PrEP at any and all social service and health appointments. “This can be a good place to provide info and access to PrEP for all.” 5 Source: San Francisco State University.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 11 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


18

SUNDAY SEP 23 11 AM Sunset Beach Parking Lot Still WALKing after 30 years

aidswalkvancouver.ca

#AidsWalkYVR Text AIDSWALK to 30333 to donate 





 




History of the AIDS WALK Life with HIV has changed – the Vancouver AIDS WALK is changing too

The

people who took the steps that made up Canada’s very first AIDS WALK here in Vancouver back in 1986 probably didn’t realize they were embarking on what would become one of the largest and most successful peer-to-peer fundraising efforts in Canadian history. But they were. Around 150 people attended that first WALK

By Jason Hjalmarson

back then and raised over $7,000.00. Together, they started something that, incredibly, managed to use the darkness of the HIV epidemic against itself by raising millions to support people living with HIV/AIDS in the more than 32 years the Vancouver AIDS WALK has been around. And it’s still going to this day.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 13 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018

continued next page


The theme of this year’s Vancouver AIDS WALK, Still WALKing after 30 years, is an effort to strike many notes at once. First and foremost, we wanted to recognize and celebrate the long-term survivors of the epidemic, many of whom are still WALKing and never thought they’d live to see today. [Editor’s note: See this issue’s ‘Back Talk’ column on page 21 for more on long-term survivors]. We wanted a theme that reminded people outside of the HIV/ AIDS community that, even though they may have heard otherwise, HIV is still here. And certainly, after the introduction of a new title sponsor—the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) —a new look, and a new website, we wanted our theme to make it clear that the Vancouver AIDS WALK isn’t going anywhere. We are still here after 30 years, still empowering each other, still WALKing to raise money and awareness for all those who are living with HIV. “At that first WALK in 1986, part of what we were doing was just showing ourselves, being visible and being seen,” John Kozachenko said, who was at the first AIDS WALK in 1986 and has volunteered at nearly every WALK ever since. “The WALK made AIDS visible to the general community, which was important because nothing was known about AIDS at that time.” Another major change to the look of this year’s WALK is the return of celebrated Vancouver Artist, Joe Average, who designed the logo art for the AIDS WALK for 16 out of 33 years. “1991 was the first year I did the art for the AIDS WALK, about four years after my own diagnosis as HIV-positive,” Joe Average said.

Enough is enough, if we don’t do it ourselves, no one will.- Kevin Brown 

“I’m a pretty shy person—keep to myself a lot—but I wanted to do something to give back, so donating the art made sense for me. For the first few years, I wanted the logo to convey movement of some kind, so you see shoes or other things moving. But as time went on, I honestly started running out of ideas, and so the AIDS WALK art was similar to whatever themes I was working through at the time. I had a period when I was really interested in anthropomorphic letters, so one year that’s what I did. I also went through a phase where I was very interested in faux stained glass, so one year that’s what I did.” Needless to say, Positive Living BC is thrilled to have Joe back for his sixteenth year and couldn’t be happier with the look of this year’s AIDS WALK artwork. We’re also thrilled to be welcoming the HEU as this year’s title sponsor. “HEU members work in community health, community social services, acute care facilities, and also in the Downtown Eastside with people who are HIV positive and struggling with addiction,” Victor Elkins, President of the HEU, said. “Our members work daily with people who are sometimes thriving, sometimes suffering, with HIV or AIDS and have seen firsthand the toll this disease has taken on our communities.” P5SITIVE LIVING | 14 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


A lot has changed for PL HIV in the 33 years of the WALK’s history, but a lot has stayed the same. New cases are still commonly diagnosed in BC (239 cases in 2015 alone, the majority of which were found in the lower mainland) and the most recent data available shows 241 cases of AIDS-related deaths occurred across in Canada 2013. People living with HIV still face discrimination by Canada’s justice system through arcane laws surrounding the disclosure of HIV status to intimate partners. They still face social isolation, especially in online dating, and they still face stigma and shame from people who aren’t aware of the latest science surrounding U=U. And, most importantly for the Vancouver AIDS WALK, living with HIV is still far too expensive.

The AIDS WALK provides an opportunity to reflect on our struggle for lasting progress. 

The unfair financial burden that HIV-positive people face was, back in 1986 and is today, the driving force behind the Vancouver AIDS WALK. Each year, the WALK’s proceeds go towards the Community Health Fund (CHF), helping to reimburse costs associated with living with HIV that are not covered elsewhere. HIV-positive, low-income people alone may access the CHF in BC; they must be living on less than $2,000.00 monthly to be able to access it. The CHF makes life with HIV a little easier by helping to cover things necessary for living with a compromised immune system. Things like products and services that help manage HIV symptoms, aid in forestalling HIV disease progression, and mitigate side effects related to HIV medications. Every donation really does make a difference to BC’s HIV-positive population. For BC’s HIV/AIDS movement, the annual AIDS WALK provides an opportunity to reflect on our struggle for lasting progress; a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come, and take stock of how far we have yet to go. The event started as a grassroots effort to empower the men and women living with HIV, and while it’s morphed a lot over the years (especially with the introduction of a number of corporate sponsors), it ultimately remains an effort to empower PLHIV through the act of fundraising. The AIDS WALK raises funds in many different ways, but the most important is the contributions that come from individual WALKers who register and raise pledges from their friends, family, or coworkers. This year, in addition to the pledges and sponsorships that are a standard part of the WALK’s fundraising efforts, we’ve added a new component by including a Text-to-Donate number. You can text “AIDSWALK” to 30333 from any mobile phone number in Canada to donate $20.00 directly to the CHF— the donation gets

added to your phone bill and the Mobile Giving Foundation of Canada will issue you a tax receipt. And that’s not the only unique fundraising effort as part of this year’s AIDS WALK. This year, HEU President Victor Elkins and myself will be doing a Skydiving Challenge! Victor and I have challenged each other to raise $2,500.00 in individual grassroots donations… but the kicker is, if we hit the goal, we have to jump out of a plane! Victor is an avid skydiver and has used this as an incentive to raise support in years past — but I couldn’t resist participating with him this time. [Editor’s note: For more about Victor Elkins, see ‘Giving Well’ on page 19] Be sure to check out Positive Living BC’s social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for updates as I become progressively more anxious as we get closer to the jump date. Those in the HIV-positive community are doing better than ever before, but the need for the Vancouver AIDS WALK hasn’t waned. “HIV is still a disease,” Wayne Campbell said, manager of Positive Living BC’s Prison Outreach Program and participant in the Vancouver AIDS WALK every year since 1991. “There’s still a high number of people at risk for catching this disease. There still needs to be education. It’s still important because the youth need this information and supporting those people who are currently living with it will allow them to potentially return back to an active life.” “There’s a sort of misconception out there that HIV is over and you just need to take these pills and you’re fine,” Neil Self said, Positive Living BC Board Chair, who was diagnosed with HIV 27 years ago.“ Unfortunately, that’s really not the case. For one thing, a lot of people affected by HIV have a lot of complex medical issues or complex social issues.” “As medications have become more efficient, we see people living longer and the number people participating in the walk change,” Campbell added. “The feel that death is surrounding us is not there anymore. We see people with renewed optimism and renewed hope…. We used to see a lot of family and friends who were pushing people who were at the end stages of life. We saw that visual frequently of people who were not long for this earth. We don’t see that much anymore. We see people who are now fully active with their lives. Their family and friends are there to support them in living instead of dying.” The 33rd annual Vancouver AIDS WALK takes place Sunday September 23rd at 11:00am at Sunset Beach. 5 Jason Hjalmarson is Positive Living BC’s Fund Development Director.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 15 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


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Your Full Potential

Inclusion: meeting the needs of older adults with HIV

You

By Kate Murzin

helped build a house from the ground up— pinching pennies, laying foundation, and trimming each room with care. But recently you returned home, and it felt different. The people around the dinner table were unfamiliar and the conversation had you feeling like an outsider. Someone had redecorated. If you are an older adult, or a long-term survivor who has sought help to cope with the combined effects of HIV, aging, and social inequities, this ‘homecoming’ may sound familiar. Home represents the web of social and healthcare services and policies created to support PLHIV. Community-based HIV organizations (CBHO) were started, their programs cobbled together and grown, thanks to advocacy by long-term survivors and their allies. Dollars were squeezed from unsympathetic politicians to create safe spaces where people could find mutual support. Many of these community-builders have died. Others are aging. Their care needs are evolving, but few organizations can keep pace. A 2013 National Coordinating Committee on HIV and Aging report found that only 24 percent of CBHOs offered programs tailored for older PLHIV. This lag doesn’t show a lack of compassion for older PLHIV, but it is a symptom of an ongoing struggle to do more with less. There is no one-size-fits-all HIV program. People who’ve had access to HIV treatment since their diagnosis or who didn’t see their community decimated by AIDS have different needs than older long-term survivors. Funders and policy-makers in the HIV sector have not just changed the décor, they’ve redesigned the house. Most funding is allocated to HIV programs addressing the UNAIDS targets for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and viral suppression. Intervening at all stages of the cascade of care is important, both in terms of reducing transmission of HIV and limiting the negative effects

of HIV on the body and mind. But, working for the end of AIDS doesn’t erase the needs of long-term survivors, who need support to cope with changes in their quality of life. Realize has developed five policy briefs to push decision-makers in CBHOs, aging care settings, and governments to act. The onus for providing care to aging PLHIV isn’t just on CBHOs. Roll out the welcome mat. Just as priority populations have been identified for HIV prevention, a similar designation should be applied to older PLHIV who share a unique set of care and support needs. Make friends with the neighbours. Those developing broader health policy should accept HIV is a chronic illness that affects older persons and draw attention to the care needs that PLHIV share with other aging persons. Take a balanced approach to design. Funders should better balance dollars for 90-90-90 initiatives with funding for programs that improve the quality of life of those aging with HIV. Offer up the bottom bunk. CBHOs should assess their spaces and communication practices to ensure accessibility to aging people. Make it cozy. Care settings should introduce and strengthen programming that addresses the mental health and social needs of older HIV-positive adults. They may just come in if the sign out front says, “Welcome home!” 5 Kate Murzin, is a Health Programs Specialist at Realize.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 17 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


P5SITIVE LIVING | 18 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Giving Well

A DONOR PROFILE By Jason Hjalmarson

who was getting married. After I’d done it, I thought it was an experience like nothing else, and I thought, “How can I continue doing this?” At a meeting of the Equity Committee, we were joking around, and someone said, “you should go skydiving to raise money,” and I thought, “Hey, that’s not a bad idea.” We branded it “Sky’s the Limit!” and now I have a good reason to keep jumping!

T

Victor Elkins

his month, I chat with Victor Elkins, President of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and long-time member of Positive Living BC’s Red Ribbon Advisory Council. Victor has participated in the Vancouver AIDS WALK since the 1990s, and this year we’re proud to have the HEU as our title sponsor. Q: When was your first AIDS WALK? A: Shortly after I moved here in the 1990s. I knew friends who had passed away in Edmonton, and I thought I needed to do something to contribute to the cause. I knew from my friends’ experience that there was no cure and treatment options then were limited. I started out just as an individual participating. Then I got involved with the union in 1996 as part of the HEU’s Equity Committee. The Equity Committee was happy to support the AIDS WALK; the members believed it was an important cause and it was good for the union to be visible in the community. This is when the HEU began participating in the WALK each year as a team. Q: For a number of years, as a personal effort to raise donations for the AIDS WALK, you’ve done a skydiving challenge. If you hit your goal, you jump out of a plane! How did this start? A: Back in the early 2000s, I decided to go skydiving with a friend

Q: Describe the bond between HEU members and HIV. A: We’re a diverse union of about 50,000 members. Even though Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark tried to crush us, we fought back and we’re still here and growing stronger. I’m proud to say the HEU has been an advocate for social justice and human rights from before I even started with the union. The HEU was one of the first unions in BC to start negotiating same-sex marriage benefits into our collective agreements. Q: Tell us about yourself. A: Before becoming HEU President, I was a cardiac perfusion assistant, working with doctors during open-heart surgeries. I’ve been a union member for my entire adult life and have worked in health care since 1985, but when I moved to BC that was when I really became involved in the union. I’ve been president now for over five years and it’s been a life changing experience. Q: What is the history between the HEU and Positive Living? A: HEU involvement began in the early days of the AIDS WALK. We began participating in the WALK as a team because we felt it was an important cause, but we didn’t get involved as a sponsor until the first AccolAIDS Awards. The HEU sponsored the first AccolAIDS, back when it was just a small event held on Granville Island, and our members got involved by volunteering, decorating, and cooking. It was a wonderful event that created a really positive atmosphere, and it felt good to be a part of something that had taken this dark, dismal thing and tried to make it into something positive by celebrating the people affected. 5 Jason Hjalmarson is Director of Fund Development at Positive Living BC.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 19 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


By Tom McAulay

HONOUR THOSE WHO WALKED BEFORE YOU

W

hen I started to research the earliest issues of the magazine for articles about the AIDS Walk I was dismayed at the complete lack of material available. All I could find in those old issues were a few announcements, an occasional thank-you to a few individuals and groups, and a couple of single-sentence reports of how we had done in a given year. Not one proper article or any attempt to describe the importance of this event to Positive Living BC nor an explanation for where the AIDS Walk funds go and who among our members benefit from these funds. I was shocked and couldn’t figure out why. Soon it dawned on me. For the first decade of the pandemic, as PLHIV died daily, as friends and family of people infected feared the worst , and as questions outweighed the answers, anybody involved with Positive Living BC or affected by HIV/AIDS already knew what the money was for and who benefited from the funds. Literally thousands of people participated in the AIDS Walk year after year. Media coverage of HIV/AIDS lasted well into the second decade of the pandemic. There was no need to explain the AIDS Walk. Lets face it—men and women in the prime of their lives dropping dead left, right, and centre made a compelling case for support. Today is a different story. Since the advent of combination drug therapy and the progress of treatment efficacy leading to decreases in HIV-related death rates, there has been an equal decline in media attention and public awareness. Many people think the crisis is over, including a large number of newly diagnosed PLHIV for whom effective treatment has eradicated the idea of the imminent death sentence. While the AIDS crisis may be over the HIV crisis is only over for some. HIV is a chronic and manageable disease, but only for the

rich. The crisis is not over for people living in poverty, for people with multiple diagnoses, for people living chaotic and unsupported lives, and for people with mental health and addiction issues. The crisis is not over for those of us long-term survivors who now face challenges related to aging and the long-term use of toxic therapies, especially those first-line therapies, some of which caused irreversible damage to our bodies. We were the guinea pigs of scientific advancement that ALL PLHIV benefit from today. To all PLHIV: I call on each of you to get involved with the AIDS Walk. You may well be living your lives free from the tragic and devastating affects that HIV/AIDS once posed, however, you do so on the backs of all who have died and the few of us who survived the first three decades of this disease. You may not need the support and services of community-based organizations, but you do owe a huge debt to the organizations and the people who fought the many battles that make your lives better today. I implore my fellow long-term survivors to get involved again. It’s not just for ourselves—it is for all of us still living with HIV and especially for those who need our help and support the most. Support the AIDS Walk, support Positive Living BC. Every dollar helps. Visit www.aidswalkvacnouver.ca or text AIDSWALK to 30333 to donate to the cause. 5 Tom McAulay is a member of the History Alive Committee.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 21 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Slew of studies for WLHIV By Sean Sinden

The

Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual & Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) is investigating how women in Canada access and use womencentred HIV services and the effect of these services on their sexual, reproductive, and mental health. In 2018, CHIWOS published four studies that address questions within this spectrum. Canadian women living with HIV (WLHIV) experience unique vulnerabilities due to increased biological susceptibility to transmission compared to men and social factors like marginalization, violence, and gender inequity. CHIWOS researchers found that 98 percent of participants were linked to care and 83 percent were on antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, the study found that there was sizeable variation in ART adherence and viral suppression between groups of women. Indigenous women, women who use drugs, and women who have been incarcerated in the past year are most often lost from the cascade of care. Only 55 percent of women aged of 16–29 were virologically suppressed. This age group showed lower rates of ART initiation and retention in care. As well, three out of four women in the cohort reported food or housing insecurity. (Food insecurity means the inability to access safe food or the uncertainty of being able to access adequate food.) Over sixty-five percent reported an annual income of less than $20,000. Factors also include poor quality of housing and unstable neighbourhoods. This study shows the need for interventions to address socio-economic factors so as to improve the health of WLHIV. The CHIWOS group has also published a study on the sexual satisfaction experienced by the women in the cohort; only 38 percent reported being very satisfied. (Women in happy and long-term relationships were more likely to be sexually satisfied.) The authors call on care providers to empower women to be fulfilled. Last, the CHIWOS researchers published a report of recruitment strategies in this type of community-based research and the approaches that have proven successful. These include engaging

with a diverse team of peer-research associates and building relationships within communities through outreach workers. CHIWOS is comprised of researchers, clinical staff, community partners, and HIV-positive women from various fields across Canada. The study cohort itself is made up of more than 1,400 WLHIV in three provinces (BC, Ontario, and Québec). 5 Sean Sinden is the communications and knowledge translation officer at CTN.

Other Studies enrolling in BC CTN 222

Canadian co-infection cohort BC site: St. Paul’s

CTN 262

Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) BC Coordinator: Rebecca Gormley, 604.558.6686 or rgormley@cfent.ubc.ca

CTN 281

EPIC 4 Study BC site: BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre

CTN 283

The I-Score Study BC site: Vancouver ID clinic

CTN 292A

Development of a screening algorithm for predicting high-grade anal dysplasia in HIV+ MSM BC site: St. Paul’s

CTN 292B

Treatment of high-grade anal dysplasia in HIV+ MSM BC site: St. Paul’s

Visit the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network database at www.hivnet.ubc.ca for more info.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 23 | JULY •• AUGUST 2018


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PROFILE OF A VOLUNTEER Stan is one of our most dedicated volunteers! Every shift, he delights us with his friendly smile, calming presence, and fun sense of humour. He is patient and smart and willing to step in to help whenever required. It’s such a pleasure to work with Stan and he is respected and liked by everyone. Alex Regier, Director of Operations

*Stan Moore*

What volunteer jobs have you done with Positive Living BC? My volunteer efforts include in the iCafe and organizing socials for Suits. When did you start with Positive Living BC? 2015. I connected with Positive Living BC and liked what I saw: a group of welcoming and highly motivated people. Why did you pick us? From the moment you walk into the centre, you can feel the energy and commitment of the staff and volunteers. Positive Living BC lives up to its promise that its members will have a supportive and caring experience in an inclusive environment.

How would you rate us? Positive Living BC is up there with the best. What is your favourite memory of your time as a volunteer here? At a Red Ribbon Breakfast I volunteered at, I was struck by a presentation by an Indigenous elder and his grandson on the affect of HIV/AIDS on their people. The personal stories of how the disease has impacted their own family was moving and motivating. I felt proud of the work being carried out by Positive Living BC.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 25 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Where to find

HELP

If you’re looking for help of information on HIV/AIDS, the following list is a starting point. For more comprehensive listings of HIV/AIDS organizations and services, please visit www.positivelivingbc.org/links

bA LOVING SPOONFUL

1449 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V5L 1G8  604.682.6325  clients@alovingspoonful.org  lovingspoonful.org

cAIDS SOCIETY OF KAMLOOPS

(ASK WELLNESS CENTRE) 433 Tranquille Road Kamloops, BC V2B 3G9  250.376.7585 or 1.800.661.7541  info@askwellness.ca  askwellness.ca

bAIDS VANCOUVER

1101 Seymour St Vancouver, BC V6B 0R1  604.893.2201  contact@aidsvancouver.org  aidsvancouver.org

bAIDS VANCOUVER ISLAND (Victoria)

713 Johnson Street, 3rd Floor Victoria, BC V8W 1M8  250.384.2366 or 1.800.665.2437  info@avi.org  avi.org

bAIDS VANCOUVER ISLAND (Courtenay)  250.338.7400 or 1.877.311.7400  info@avi.org  avi.org/courtenay

bAIDS VANCOUVER ISLAND (Nanaimo)  250.753.2437 or 1.888.530.2437  info@avi.org  avi.org/nanaimo

bAIDS VANCOUVER ISLAND (Port Hardy)  250.902.2238  info@avi.org  avi.org/porthardy

bANKORS (EAST)

46 - 17th Avenue South Cranbrook, BC V1C 5A8  250.426.3383 or 1.800.421.AIDS  gary@ankors.bc.ca  ankors.bc.ca

bANKORS (WEST)

101 Baker Street Nelson, BC V1L 4H1

 250.505.5506 or 1.800.421.AIDS  information@ankors.bc.ca  ankors.bc.ca

bDR. PETER CENTRE

1110 Comox Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1K5  604.608.1874  info@drpetercentre.ca  drpetercentre.ca

bLIVING POSITIVE

RESOURCE CENTRE OKANAGAN 168 Asher Road Kelowna, BC V1X 3H6  778.753.5830 or 1.800.616.2437  info@lprc.ca  livingpositive.ca

bMCLAREN HOUSING

200-649 Helmcken Street Vancouver, BC V6B 5R1  604.669.4090  info@mclarenhousing.com  mclarenhousing.com

bOKANAGAN ABORIGINAL AIDS SOCIETY 200-3717 Old Okanagan Way Westbank, BC V4T 2H9  778.754.5595  info@oaas.ca  oaas.ca

bPOSITIVE LIVING

FRASER VALLEY SOCIETY Unit 1 – 2712 Clearbrook Road Abbotsford, BC V2T 2Z1  604.854.1101  info@plfv.org  plfv.org

bPOSITIVE LIVING NORTH

#1 - 1563 Second Avenue Prince George, BC V2L 3B8  250.562.1172 or 1.888.438.2437  positivelivingnorth.org

bPOSITIVE LIVING NORTH WEST

3862F Broadway Avenue Smithers, BC V0J 2N0  250.877.0042 or 1.866.877.0042  plnw.org P5SITIVE LIVING | 26 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018

bPURPOSE SOCIETY FOR YOUTH & FAMILIES 40 Begbie Street New Westminster, BC V3M 3L9  604.526.2522  info@purposesociety.org  purposesociety.org

bREL8 OKANAGAN

P.O. Box 20224, Kelowna BC V1Y 9H2  250-575-4001  rel8.okanagan@gmail.com  www.rel8okanagan.com

bRED ROAD HIV/AIDS NETWORK

61-1959 Marine Drive North Vancouver, BC V7P 3G1  778.340.3388  info@red-road.org  red-road.org

bVANCOUVER NATIVE HEALTH SOCIETY 449 East Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6A 1P5  604.254.9949  vnhs@shawbiz.ca  vnhs.net

bVANCOUVER ISLAND PERSONS

LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS SOCIETY 1139 Yates Street Victoria, BC V8V 3N2  250.382.7927 or 1.877.382.7927  support@vpwas.com  vpwas.com

bWINGS HOUSING SOCIETY 12–1041 Comox Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1K1  604.899.5405  wingshousing@shaw.ca  wingshousing.org

bYOUTHCO

205–568 Seymour Street Vancouver, BC V6B 3J5  604.688 1441 or 1.855.968.8426  info@youthco.org  youthco.org


POSITIVE LIVING BC SOCIETY BUSINESS JOIN A SOCIETY COMMITTEE!





If you are a member of the Positive Living Society of BC, you can join a committee and help make important decisions for the Society and its programs and services. To become a voting member on a committee, you will need attend three consecutive committee meetings. Here is a list of some committees. For more committees visit positivelivingbc.org, and click on “Get Involved� and “Volunteer�.

Board & Volunteer Development_ Marc Seguin ď‚• 604.893.2298

ď‡˜ marcs@positivelivingbc.org

Education & Communications_ Adam Reibin ď‚• 604.893.2209

ď‡˜ adamr@positivelivingbc.org

History Alive!_ Adam Reibin ď‚• 604.893.2298

Text AIDSWALK to 30333 to donate to our biggest and best fundraiser!

Name________________________________________ Address __________________ City_____________________ Prov/State _____ Postal/Zip Code________ Country______________ Phone ________________ E-mail_______________________ I have enclosed my cheque of $______ for Positive Living m $25 in Canada m $50 (CND $) International Please send ______ subscription(s)

ď‡˜ adamr@positivelivingbc.org

Positive Action Committee_ Ross Harvey ď‚• 604.893.2252

ď‡˜ rossh@positivelivingbc.org

Positive Living Magazine_Jason Motz ď‚• 604.893.2206

ď‡˜ jasonm@positivelivingbc.org

ViVA (women living with HIV)_Charlene Anderson ď‚• 604.893.2217

ď‡˜ charlenea@positivelivingbc.org

m BC ASOs & Healthcare providers by donation: Minimum $6 per annual subscription. Please send ____ subscription(s) m Please send Positive Living BC Membership form (membership includes free subscription) m Enclosed is my donation of $______ for Positive Living * Annual subscription includes 6 issues. Cheque payable to Positive Living BC.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 27 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


Last Blast The Resilience of the Long Distance Runner

I

By Stephen Kovacev

am a 65-year-old athlete living with AIDS on Cape Cod. I will be participating in the marathon at the quadrennial Gay Games (being held this August 4 to 11 in Paris) representing Provincetown, Massachusetts. This will be my eighth Gay Games since 1990. Over 10,000 athletes from 80 countries are expected to participate in Gay Games X in Paris. The Gay Games was the brainchild of Tom Waddell, an Olympic athlete who competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The first Gay Games was held in San Francisco in 1982. There is always a place for someone who might be suspected to have a handicap. I have a handicap but it has not prevented me from running with AIDS in important marathons in both the United States and Europe at large. Perhaps the ultimate marathon experience occurred when I ran in the marathon at Marathon itself in Greece. This was the world celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of where the Battle of Marathon took place. An amazing athlete ran from Marathon to Athens with news of the victory over the Persians, a distance of approximately 26 miles. All over the world, the Olympic Games celebrates the marathon but few people know of the connections between the historic Battle of Marathon and the marathon. On June 16, 2018, I was standing before the new AIDS Memorial in Provincetown during the dedication and thinking I will be going to run the marathon at the Gay Games in Paris. In 1989, I suspected I was HIV-positive when I ran my first Boston Marathon. I was diagnosed HIV-positive before I ran in my first Gay Games Marathon in Vancouver in 1990. Then after nearly dying from AIDS, I was the first HIV-positive person in 1997 to complete the Boston Marathon. That same year I would be selected to crew on Survivor, an all HIV/AIDS crew that raced in the 1997 TransPac—a prestigious boat race held every two years since 1902 racing from Los Angeles to Honolulu. I was no stranger to training before the AIDS epidemic hit. And ever since, I have been aware of the demands made on my body by AIDS. Last year the discovery that I had cancer presented me with another deadly health challenge. Fortunately, I responded

to the treatment in such a way to be currently considered cancer-free. Part of my success at defeating such major obstacles is being aware of the medications I am taking. For example, in my battle with AIDS I know the medications used as treatments can be poisons to the body. I chose a holistic path that would lead me further into the world of integrative medicines. My persistence in using such medicines I believe, along with spirituality and intensive physical workouts, are totally positive for my well-being. The fact that I have run over 30 major marathons speaks to my determination as an athlete. Not many AIDS patients can boast of a record like this. Today I find myself to be the oldest survivor of AIDS running in marathons both here and abroad. I have been able to do this with the love and encouragement of my family of friends. As the Olympic Games remember and honor the great athletes of the past, so I too remember and celebrate all those who fell on the battlefield of AIDS. 5 This article originally appeared on Poz.com and appears here in an edited format.

P5SITIVE LIVING | 28 | SEPTEMBER •• OCTOBER 2018


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