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Casey House’s podcast Positively Speaking gives voice to people living with HIV by sharing their diverse and compelling stories.

It was inspired by Ear Hustle, which shares the experience of San Quentin prison through the voices of those incarcerated. With the help of a client advisory group and collaborative brainstorming sessions possible themes were identified. Client votes determined the episode topics for the first season: HIV and long-term survivors, relationships, mental health, housing, isolation and living positively. We hope the conversations both inspire and provoke.

Hosted by Casey House social worker Liz Creal with peer program manager Andre Ceranto, Positively Speaking is written by Amanda Crawford, Andre Ceranto and Liz Creal, Casey House and produced by the RTA School of Media, Ryerson University.

Episode 1- HIV and long-term survivors The premier episode tells the stories of long-term survivors, people who have been living with HIV for over 25 years. Guests Allan, John, Rod, Murray and Muluba tell us about the early days of the epidemic, early and current medications, loss and hopes for the future.

Episode 2 – HIV and relationships Guests Jean, Greg, Phil and Alberto describe how living with HIV has impacted their relationships. For some it has strengthened them, for others, it has forced them to examine their needs, values and what’s important to them.

Episode 3- HIV and mental health Guests share their experiences with mental health: the shock and impact of the HIV diagnosis; how substance use is sometimes a coping mechanism; the challenges of accessing appropriate mental health services, as well as the isolating effects of stigma and discrimination. Scott, Rod, Debbie, Steve and Sabani also describe what they learned from these challenges to create a positive path forward.

Episode 4 – HIV and housing
Toronto already has an affordable housing problem. Finding clean, safe, supportive and affordable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS experiencing physical, mental health and/or substance use issues adds another layer of complexity. Guests Allan, Michael, Scott and Tim discuss challenges finding appropriate housing, stigma and discrimination because of their HIV status, and the urgent need for more supportive housing in our city. We also discuss the difference appropriate housing makes to their health and well being.

Episode 5 – HIV and isolation
There are few medical conditions as stigmatizing as HIV/AIDS. Tell friends or family that you have cancer or diabetes and they often rally around you; tell them you are HIV+ and their responses can be quite different. Guests Allan, Michael, Scott and Tim describe their experiences with isolation and loneliness, some self-imposed, and how they have come to find peace within themselves.

Episode 6 – Living positively with HIV
The last episode of season 1 ends on an encouraging note; you’ll hear from guests Robert, Kenneth, Eliot and Francois, who despite facing multiple challenges, have been able to find constructive new ways to understand their circumstances and find positive ways to engage with the world.

Glossary of terms used in Positively Speaking

Sharing what we’ve learned

The podcast team presented at AIDS2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference. Learn how Positively Speaking was developed, and what was learned from the first season here.