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HIV Advocate, Ciara "Ci Ci" Covin, a Success Story Based on Resilience


The success story of Ciara “Ci Ci” Covin is one based on resilience and passion. Diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2008 — when she was only 20 years old and entering her senior year at the University of Georgia — Covin didn’t make time for despair or self-pity. Describing herself as an HIV advocate the day after her diagnosis, Covin almost instantly worked to reconcile her life plans with her new status of a woman living with HIV.

Fourteen years later, Covin is a mother of two and the program manager at The Well Project, an organization serving women and other vulnerable groups living with HIV. Her work at Well began when she started blogging for the group, sharing her experiences as a young woman of color living with HIV. Her desire to share her story, and help others like her, lead to career advancement — she eventually was hired as a coordinator for the organization, before being promoted to her current position of program manager. 

She says her writing helps spread the message that women living with HIV are not alone. “We often think we’re so different from the person next to us, but often we are not,” she says.

In her work, Covin battles against deeply-held prejudices about HIV, especially when it comes to women. She describes being asked by some people how she got pregnant. “Am I not supposed to have sex, am I not supposed to have good sex?,” she says. Covin is well-versed in the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) movement, the globally-accepted consensus that those living with HIV and adhering to treatment cannot pass the disease to others. Working in the health field, Covin finds there is still much ignorance on U=U, calling the lack of knowledge “shocking” and describing a recent conference call with five nurses — only two had heard of U=U.

Covin is happy to bang the drum on U=U and the realities of being a working mother living with HIV. There are challenges, but Covin sees the bigger picture. “My [kids are] negative. I’m still undetectable,” she says. “Life is good.”  

Learn more about Ci Ci's story and others, in the newest episode of HIV Heroes.