Looking back, I realize how I was brainwashed by those Hollywood movies that made me believe starting a family would be a snap. The typical story line was: boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married and then children appear. Everything looked so effortless.
With modern antiretroviral medications, nearly every HIV-positive man and woman can be successfully treated today. This doesn’t mean that the infection has been eliminated from the body—there will always be stored copies of the virus hidden away—but we can essentially stop any new virus from being produced. This is what we call having an “undetectable viral load.”
At a session on queer health at the World-Pride Human Rights Conference this summer, mostly a friendly affair of cross-border discovery and solidarity featuring speakers from Colombia, Kenya and Canada, there was one itchy moment. Joseph Erban, a smoking cessation counsellor in the oncology department of Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, raised the ire of several people in the packed classroom when he suggested that smoking kills more LGBT people than HIV.