Despite her amazingly youthful appearance, mother of three, Tana Pradia, is also a grandmother, and great-grandmother. A true survivor, she’s been living with HIV for nearly 20 years and has overcome everything from drug addiction, to a near-deadly bout of tuberculosis, to once having her T cell count drop to 14 with an out-of-control viral load.
After being given a “second chance” in life, Pradia threw herself into advocacy work, becoming a patient mentor at the Harris Health System’s Thomas Street Health Center in Houston.
Today, Pradia speaks openly about her long battle with addiction, “I was addicted to drugs for over 15 years, I have been clean for over seven. After getting clean, I moved back to Houston. I joined a women’s support group in 2014 and from there, I took the Ryan White Project L.E.A.P. class.” Pradia explains that the free Houston-area, Ryan White Planning Council-sponsored, 17-week training course helped her develop skills needed to help plan for HIV prevention and care services in the region. “This was the beginning of my advocacy.”
Today Pradia is a part of several organizations, most notably, a cofounder and co-chair of the Positive Women’s Network’s greater Houston area chapter. She also recently received one of the organization’s policy fellowships. Despite these seemingly bureaucratic positions, Pradia is anything but a paper-pusher. The fierce activist is known for showing up on the front lines to stand up for all marginalized people in her community—and the Trump administration’s extremism has only fueled her fire. Not only was Pradia active in the fight for immigrant justice in Texas, joining several marches and going to the border to protest family separations, she also traveled to D.C. to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
“I have been fighting for immigrants and their families and women’s rights in 2018,” says Pradia, reflecting on the past year’s many political upheavals that put such groups at risk. “If I’m asked to act, I jump into action. These issues are important to me, as a woman living with HIV. In the world we live in today, it’s important to have our voices heard. We don’t need money to fight issues, we can fight with numbers and be successful.”
“I am so proud to have been able to overcome addiction and find my passion as a woman living with HIV,” she concludes, expressing her gratitude to be able to do the work she does. “I would have never imagined years ago that I would be here, fighting for women living with HIV, or myself. This has saved my life, as an addict giving back to a community I love.”