Meet The Pennsylvania Mom Uniting HIV-Positive Women Together

Giving birth to two HIV-negative children, Ciarra Covin aims to inspire, educate others who long to be mothers.

“If HIV can find me, then it can find anyone else that is around me, so I wanted to use my story to help other people not get HIV.”

By day, Ciarra “Ci Ci” Covin is a human services practitioner.

But around the clock, she’s an advocate, speaker, mother, and wellness expert living with HIV. And she’s laying the groundwork for life-changing health campaigns in Pennsylvania.
Sitting down with Take Control HIV, Ci Ci shared she was diagnosed in 2008 at 20 years old and has been counteracting false narratives about the virus and knocking over stereotypes like dominoes ever since.
“People think that they are not vulnerable to a diagnosis.”

Having contracted HIV through sexual activity, Ci Ci wants everyone to know that anyone can contract the virus.

“The conversations cannot end. We are missing a whole generation of folks who think that HIV is an old people problem or that they don’t have to worry about it,” she voiced.

One way to share the truth about HIV is by sharing stories of those living with the virus. Ci Ci says if you are positive, it’s never too late to start telling your story.

In her life, Ci Ci’s advocacy efforts began as small-town activities like speaking at youth organizations and joining support groups. She also found a sense of community from writing blogs for The Well Project and sparking conversations on social media.

“I was talking to myself at the beginning,” she said. At the time, she had a small social media following.
Ci Ci was connected to a community of women living with HIV through the Well Project and its program called “A Girl Like Me” – she says this community gave her hope.
“I felt like I was the only person for a very long time that was living with HIV,” she recalled. Even though Ci Ci knew there were other people with the virus, it wasn’t until she began blogging and advocating that she connected with people who were going through similar experiences.
Uniting mothers together

Living with HIV, many people believe they cannot have children and fear they will pass the virus on to a child. But if you have HIV, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby.

Ci Ci says this was her first concern when she tested positive.
“Giving birth – that experience has been phenomenal as a woman living with HIV. That was the first thing I questioned when I got diagnosed. And I have been blessed to be able to give birth to two children who are not living with HIV.”
This drives Ci Ci. She’s currently working to launch an online or in-person community platform for mothers who are living with HIV. “There’s such a unique story to be told there,” she said, noting how online communities can be particularly beneficial to folks who want support while remaining anonymous.
“It’s going to take all of us together to end this virus,” she says.
The resilient rhythm of advocacy
“The advancements in treatment over the last four decades or so have been phenomenal,” Ci Ci told Take Control HIV, adding that when you engage in treatment and advocate for yourself and in the community, doors will open, even if not right away.
She encourages everyone to keep showing up. “Keep using your voice even when you don’t think anybody is listening. Keep talking. Stand firm in what it is that you’re advocating or fighting for.”
It has been more than 15 years since Ci Ci was first diagnosed and at times, she considered whether her advocacy efforts on social media or in the community were making a difference. She admits people can be judgmental toward HIV-positive individuals, but says, “I’m learning to respond more out of love when I get those comments.”
While one post might not do well, Ci Ci will ask herself, “but what does it look like over a long time?”
As our conversation with Ci Ci ended, she shared her focus is on long-term personal and community growth. She is committed to educating, advocating, and uplifting a community of women and mothers – knowing it might not be easy every day but this work will inspire a better future.
Follow Ci Ci Covin

If you’d like to keep up with the latest news from Ci Ci, connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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If you are inspired and want to share your story, connect with us on social media. Take Control HIV is focused on building our community and is on a mission to ensure all people have access to HIV testing, care, and treatment.
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