The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Shari Margolese (Spring 2003)

Age: 48
Mississauga, Ontario
Community consultant and volunteer
Living with HIV for 18 years
CD4 count: 800
Viral load: undetectable

“A passionate and loving community advocate, mom, daughter, sister and friend with a zest for life, chocolate, work, travel and the occasional margarita!”

How would you describe your health?
Pretty darn good, overall.

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
My biggest issue is arthritis, which is partially HIV-related. I take over-the-counter medication and medicinal marijuana to relieve the pain of the arthritis. I’m allergic or sensitive to everything else. I also exercise and try to get proper rest.

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 in Canada?
There have been several advances: newer, easier-to-tolerate antiretroviral therapies are now available and many of us are now living longer, healthier lives. Women, who were virtually excluded from clinical trials in the early days of HIV are now included more frequently. In the 1990s, HIV-positive women were discouraged from having children. Now, due to advances in antiretroviral therapy and support from healthcare providers, they are able to have safe and healthy pregnancies. However, even with all of these incredible medicinal advances over a relatively short period of time, the fact of the matter is that people are still dying and we still have no cure.

What has changed for you personally?
I am now living as a single mom of a young adult. Now that my son is older (18), I have a bit more time on my hands and I have begun to focus more on pursuing some of my interests. I am very fortunate to have an excellent mentor in Dr. Mona Loutfy, who is guiding me through the process of improving HIV pregnancy planning resources and services through community-based research. It is important to me that my time be spent on projects that directly affect the lives of people living with HIV.

In one word, describe this moment in AIDS.
Hopeful.

In 10 years…
I will be retired in a warm climate, writing books and entertaining my grandchildren.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
“Vienna Waits for You” by Billy Joel: “…Slow down, you crazy child, and take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while…”