The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Tracey Conway (Spring 2003)

Age: 43
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Diagnosed with HIV in 1998
CD4 count: approximately 980
Viral load: undetectable

“An advocate for improved healthcare for women and children at risk and improved access to general healthcare in rural communities.”

How would you describe your health?
My overall health is good; however, I am taking medication for depression and need to watch my cholesterol and calcium, a normal part of getting older.

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
The biggest issues are the continued stigma and discrimination from uneducated and intolerant individuals. A lot of this comes from people who work in social services. Many of these so-called professionals still hold archaic beliefs about HIV and operate on prejudicial assumptions when dealing with individuals living with HIV.

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?
One of the biggest changes for women living with HIV is an opportunity to lead a full and productive life. This includes having a relationship with a significant other, having children and planning a future.

What has changed for you personally?
I had my daughter, Leah Cassandra. When I was diagnosed, I thought I was going to die imminently, and I never thought I would have sex again, let alone give birth to a healthy child. She is a great inspiration in my life.

In the past year I have undergone a lot of counselling and self-discovery so I can move forward from my mistakes and learn to cope with life in a more healthy way. I continue to volunteer in the AIDS field but I now also volunteer for children’s programming at our local YMCA, take yoga and participate at my daughter’s school on a regular basis.

Also, a significant improvement for me has been moving to a once-daily treatment regimen. I no longer have to take a boatload of pills and I am less likely to miss a dose.

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

In 10 years…
I see myself still involved with community-based research, working on women-specific issues, and possibly expanding from the HIV field to women at risk as well as isolated communities.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
“Long May You Run” by Neil Young and “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.