Long time HIV survivor Sean Strub has played a central role in the movement for self-empowerment of the HIV infected. Recently, he has focused on issues of HIV criminalization.
He founded and published POZ, a magazine about living well with HIV. An active member of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), he has also raised funds for numerous HIV/LGBT causes. He recently published "Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival."
For those of us who lived through the worst of the epidemic, we can now look back on the worst collective "morning after" in our lives, its messy clean up and reflect on what happened. For younger people, this book provides an accessible, quick read about living through an important time in our history. The memoir format emphasizes lived experience rather than reporting objective facts.
Strub also describes two seldom mentioned aspects of the epidemic: the fear of asking about someone you hadn’t seen in a while and the emotional problems of updating your address book when so many in it have died.
The epidemic not only involved death, pain and suffering, but also the community’s adaptation to it and resistance to the right wing’s attempt to use it to further their agenda. One cannot understand that adaptation and resistance without understanding its development.
Strub emphasizes the "Denver principles," a foundational document for the self-empowerment of the HIV positive community. Eleven gay men with AIDS wrote these principles. They rejected the label of "victim" and asserted the rights of the HIV positive to live full, satisfying sexual and emotional lives, free of scapegoating and pity.
A direct line exists from this early statement to today’s resistance to HIV criminalization. Strub defines HIV criminalization as "...the inappropriate use of one’s HIV status in criminal prosecutions, most notably through criminal statutes that apply only to people with HIV."
Consistent with the "Denver Principles," Strub founded POZ.