Back to contents

In this issue

Gus Cairns
Published: 03 February 2012

In the world of HIV there’s a lot of righting wrongs and there’s still plenty to get angry about, as you will (I trust) if you read Edwin J Bernard’s update on criminalisation (Getting tough on criminalisation). Once you have, go to Sean Strub’s YouTube video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB-6blJjbjc), where he interviews three people treated as sexual abusers for exposing their (non-infected) partners to HIV or, in one case, just for failing to disclose their status. It’s heartbreaking. Such blatant stigma, shifting of all the blame for bad relationships and guilty sex on to the shoulders of people with HIV; it makes us angry, but it can also make us despair. If this is what the world thinks of us, what incentive is there for celebrating being in it?

Celebrating being in the world is exactly what Peak experiences is about. Writing it felt like a gamble – comparable with Walking back to happiness in HTU 189. Such articles run the risk of sounding Pollyannaish and New-Agey – especially when people start throwing words around like ‘spirituality’ and ‘transcendence’ – so we’ve tried to anchor it with a touch of neuroscience and psychology. It may be speculative to link the lure of unprotected sex with the call of the mountains, but there is a respectable literature showing that, if you want people to make positive changes in their lives, there has to be a reward for doing it. Our adventurers are experts in finding their own reward – many thanks to them for sharing their experiences with us.

Being a powerful and fulfilled person with HIV is part of the subtext in our other features. Joining a patient forum or advocacy group (Supporting patient power) may be the first time someone has stood up and talked about having HIV. I remember someone I met at Positively UK’s conference last September. White, working class, female – no member of the establishment, she. Though she kept emphasising she “didn’t know anything and was here to learn”, she had something more precious than knowledge – self-respect.

The article on the BHIVA guidelines (Treatment: what really works best?) is about people power, too. Although the British HIV Association has long included patient representatives in its committees, I felt consulted and listened to to a greater extent than before, even co-writing a couple of the sections of most importance to patients. I would like to thank Ian Williams especially – who also happens to be an HIV consultant at the Bloomsbury Clinic which hosts the UK’s largest patient advocacy group – for not just paying lip service to patient power but for being determined to help us make it happen.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.