by Paul Thorn
Reviewed by Alina Oswald
The AIDS pandemic is only one year shy of turning thirty-five. During all this time, we’ve read many, many stories inspired by the virus that started the pandemic, and also by those living with the virus. Stories often capture a wide range of emotions associated with HIV and AIDS—from suffering and loss, to success and victories against the virus—sketching out in a seemingly infinite of ways, the ongoing epidemic and the ever-changing face of the disease itself. Through it all, maybe one idea has remained constant—that life, or life as we know it, can, indeed, end in an instant.
Maybe this very thought triggered the idea for Paul Thorn’s new book, HIV Happy, in which the author offers a surprising and unusual take on the pandemic, in a blueprint of living life to the fullest, while living with the virus. Thorn, who, in 2014, was nominated Journalist of the Year by Stonewall, dedicates his book to his friend, Glenn Thomas, whose life ended just over a year ago, on July 17, 2014, when he was traveling to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne and Malaysian flight MH17 was shot down from the sky over eastern Ukraine.
HIV Happy offers a short and to-the-point, brutally honest yet much needed self-help read, in which the author shares his own experience of living with the virus, and details, with much clarity, the five pillars of living HIV happy: health and self, relationships, home, work, and finances.
We all need these five pillars in our lives, regardless of our HIV status. In that sense, HIV Happy reaches many of us—HIV-positive or not—on a personal level, daring to touch on issues we often hesitate to talk about, such as living with low self-esteem or dealing with the curve balls life throws our way, and helps us recognize our second chances and make the best of them, in order to live happy, and full lives.
“Happiness comes from being grateful for what we have already in our lives and acknowledging it. We so often take what we have for granted.” Thorn writes in HIV Happy. “[I]t isn’t about reaching up for something, but simply reaching out.”
As of April 2018, Paul Thorn made the book available as a free PDF download by clicking here.
Alina Oswald is Arts Editor of A&U.