The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Louise Binder (Spring 2003)

Age: 61
Volunteer advocacy work for systemic change
“I was diagnosed [with HIV] in 1994 but infected for at least six or seven years before that.”
CD4 count: 860
Viral load: undetectable

“An HIV-positive woman dedicated to working for human rights.”

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
Sure. I’ve had chronic colitis ever since I was infected and the drugs irritate it. I take amino acids, and when things get really rough, I’ll take some Pepto Bismol. I try to watch what I eat. I have to inject myself twice a day for the Fuzeon, and that’s not exactly a picnic with the bruises and bumps. But it’s a good medication so I’m willing to put up with that. I’ve also got peripheral neuropathy in my feet, but that’s kind of the breaks.

There’s always a certain amount of nausea I feel when I take my drugs, so I try to take my morning dose with food and then I take the rest right before I go to bed. The drugs are also affecting my bones: I have osteopenia, so I take calcium and get regular bone density tests.

Just the usual bucket of bitching and complaining.

Since you were on the cover of our women’s issue back in 2003, what would you say has changed for women living with HIV?
There is more of an understanding of the differences between men and women and, therefore, the need to look at prevention and treatment for women through that lens. Not everybody does it but at least now there’s recognition of the differences. We finally got on the map, in terms of research and the way our doctors treat us.

What has changed for you personally since appearing on the cover?
I’ve done a lot of psychotherapy and I now do the things that I want to do without feeling the need to please anybody else; I still like to help other people, but don’t need to please them. Having a man in my life used to be such a significant marker of my value, but that’s completely irrelevant to me now. There have been great changes in my sense of self-esteem and the things I value in my life and how I measure my worth.

In one word, describe this moment in AIDS.

In 10 years…
I will be running my own businesses, writing books and making movies.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
“Like a Bird on a Wire” by Leonard Cohen.