You may have seen Davina Conner's fun U=U videos on Facebook.
Conner says about the videos that many have contributed to, "that it's an opportunity to have some fun dancing and celebrating #uequalsu!! It has given people diagnosed with #HIV a chance to smile again, be happy, feel free, have babies. have sex and not transmit why wouldn't we celebrate?"
Conner became an HIV-activist four years ago. It started by way of radio with her podcast to end the HIV stigma.
Doing the podcast made Conner realize using her voice could actually make a difference and help "so many women, and not just women who were diagnosed with HIV, but also those who were not diagnosed."
It led her to mentor newly diagnosed women over the phone who were having a hard time with their HIV status.
Some of Conner’s biggest hurdles have been getting people of color to understand that it’s okay to talk about sex and HIV. She knows that if you don’t talk about it, then “how can we educate our children, our youth and our community on it?”
Despite the strength she projects she admits that being diagnosed as a woman with HIV can undermine your confidence: “We tend to underestimate that we are more than our diagnosis,” she says.
Conner can measure her success. “I just graduated with an Associate’s degree in Public Health and am now working towards my Bachelor’s degree. To me, this is something I never thought I would be doing after being diagnosed with HIV. Another success is being part of the UequalsU movement here in the US where we educate women with HIV letting them know they can have healthy babies who are not diagnosed with HIV.”
To help her deal with any stigma she might encounter about her mother’s status Conner has conversations about sex, STI’s, pregnancy and HIV with both her daughters. “Once I felt it was time to talk to my youngest daughter about my HIV status she was 12-years old. I sat her down and showed her a video with me talking about being HIV positive and asked her how it made her feel and if there were any questions she had. She turned around looked at me and said I don’t have any questions and I don’t care if you have HIV, Mom.”
Conner believes that knowledge is power and by spreading awareness and educating all communities can help everyone take proactive steps and come together around the cause. “My goal is to proceed in eliminating the stigma, advocating, and to keep educating the public. With the progress being made to make HIV history I am confident that it will happen. We can look to what Johnson & Johnson is doing right now in South Africa for women and girls ages 18 to 35 the most at risk. It’s been 80 years that Johnson and Johnson has been in South Africa and currently they are on the ground recruiting and testing a vaccine that may prevent HIV and give all of us a better chance for a world without HIV.”