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Bob Leahy

Northern Lights

Undetectable: A Drama in Three Parts
September 25, 2014

The plot has never been quite this complicated. At one time, prevention messaging was simpler and, short of abstinence, centered on using condoms. It was that simple. But things became more complicated when the ability of antiretroviral therapy to substantially reduce the risk of transmission became evident. Not only did people have more choices, but these choices became more -- well, complicated. Frequently they involved knowing more about risk than ever before, more about the science of transmission and more about the comparative effectiveness of various prevention alternatives. Throw in controversy, mixed messages, a little bit of moralizing and proselytizing and HIV prevention choices became a bit of a minefield to navigate for the average Joe or Jill.

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Memoirs of a Caregiver, Part 3
May 19, 2014

I don't pretend that this story is at all unique. I tell it because I suspect it may be part of a growing trend -- HIVers assuming the role of caregivers where previously they thought of themselves as recipients of care. It's a bit of an adjustment.

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An Ill Partner, an Ailing Pet: When the Tables Are Turned
April 8, 2014

Last time I wrote on this topic I expressed the thought that with many HIVers now living long and productive lives they would increasingly be required to be caregivers rather than recipients of care. My partner is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, after all. and while the prognosis is pretty good, the balance of who needs help in our relationship, physical and emotional, and who doesn't, has shifted.

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Both Sides Now: Caring for an HIV-Negative Partner
March 16, 2014

I've never really been a high-maintenance patient myself. Only the odd hospital stay here and there, the odd bouts of depression and anxiety which have largely dissipated as the years dragged on since my diagnosis in 1993. I've put on a brave face since day one. No practical things I couldn't do myself either -- although that's not to say I haven't played the patient card on occasion. No more cleaning of fish tanks for me, no dealing with kitty litter, for instance but that was more because I disliked doing these chores rather than any perceived health hazard, but better to be safe than sorry, right? *wink wink*

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Hooked Up: Exploring HIV Disclosure Online
September 28, 2013

Some hook-up sites for gay men make it easy to discuss HIV status; others just muddy the waters. But how reliable is the data for deciding what sex to have, with whom and how safely? And how does barebacking fit in? Bob Leahy looks at two popular sites and arrives at some surprising conclusions.

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Why We Need to Re-Assess Barebacking, Stop the Stigma and Be Honest About the Risk
June 17, 2013

As editor of a respected online magazine for people living with HIV, I made a choice, rightly or wrongly (probably the latter), so that in our magazine's first year or two we didn't cover barebacking. We thought it was too inflammatory a subject, thought it might encourage people to do it, thought that people would think we were irresponsible.

That changed in a big way when we featured Josh Landale, Josh Kruger, Michael Bouldin, Jake Sobo, Mark S. King and a handful of others for whom barebacking is either part of their lives or they have come to terms with it.

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Changing My Mind on Treatment as Prevention
April 12, 2013

One hundred and eighty degree turns happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes we seize the steering wheel of our lives and in one fell swoop travel along an opposite path. Other times, we take the turn slowly, one degree at a time, gradually realizing the path we are on leads nowhere and we need to go off in radically new directions. That's been the case with my realizing that most of my once fervently held objections to treatment as prevention, in 2013, make much less sense than they once did.

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Tell All: Fresh Thoughts on Disclosure
February 15, 2013

In these times when the conversation is all about NON-disclosure, I'm becoming increasingly a fan of the very opposite. In short, I think many more people need to disclose.

Here's the thing. It's unfashionable to say so, I know, but I think we should disclose, when we can do so safely, in almost all sexual and nonsexual situations where it makes sense.

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Gay/Bi Men Hung Out to Dry in HIV Research?
November 6, 2012

The place of gay/bi men in our response to the HIV epidemic has changed. (And I say "gay/bi men" because I dislike seeing the term MSM -- men who have sex with men -- outside the realm of epidemiology.) Once, in those early days of the epidemic, we were both leaders and the focus of everything about HIV. But over time, and as other at-risk groups became more affected by the disease, that all changed. It had to.

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Risky Talk
July 19, 2012

I've never really heard people ask this question -- strange in itself when it looks like every question about HIV has been asked, and written about, often -- whether people living with HIV are inherently different. I'm talking about more prone to taking risks and thus more susceptible to becoming infected. Sure, we know all about vulnerable populations, social determinants of health and all that, which are often fingered as the culprits in HIV infections. But let's face it; the reality is that many, many people from vulnerable populations and with ALL the social determinants of health looking pretty good DON'T get infected. So what is different about the ones who do?

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Northern Lights

Bob Leahy

Bob Leahy

A banker turned AIDS activist, Bob Leahy is the busy Editor of, Canada's globally read online HIV magazine by and for people living with HIV. Diagnosed with HIV in 1993, Bob has held almost every volunteer position in the HIV community imaginable, including chairing his local ASO and serving on the boards of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Canadian AIDS Society. Recognized on the Ontario AIDS Network's prestigious Honour Roll, his interests lie in social media, gay men's sexual health and making HIV research intelligible for all. A long-time blogger, this ex-Torontonian lives the rural life with his three dogs and partner of thirty-one years.

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