The Positive Side

Summer 2011 

Kecia Larkin (Fall/Winter 2001)

Age: 40
Victoria, BC
Diagnosed with HIV in 1989
CD4 count: 300
Viral load: undetectable

"A woman moving to another stage of life with HIV, from 18–40 and on…"

How would you describe your health?
My health is much better compared to 10 years ago when I was battling bone marrow anemia from the AZT I was taking during pregnancy. My hemoglobin bottomed out to 67, and I needed blood transfusions for it.

Are you experiencing any specific issues around HIV or your treatment?
When I started antiretrovirals, I had many options for treatment, as I had gone 14 years without taking any HIV meds. Over the past 10 years, I’ve experienced different side effects from antiretrovirals, including rash, swelling, fever, pancreatic inflammation, blood fats, poorer dental health, severe nausea and heightened depression. I am very happy to say that my current regimen is working well!

You and your very pregnant belly graced the first cover of The Positive Side in 2001. Six days after your interview for the cover story, you gave birth to your son. How is he? And how is your daughter?
My son, Owen, is a very kind, gentle, deep-thinking young man. He is a typical nine-year-old who loves video games, Lego and helping others. My daughter, Rakiya, is finishing her last year of high school and is looking forward to post-secondary education next year as an honour roll graduate.

How has being a mother informed your role as an activist and advocate, and vice versa?
I’m a single mom with two children who parents, advocates and works part-time as a peer research assistant. As a mother, I have had to think about my future and my children’s future. I have had to think about what I have taken for granted in the past and how I can change the future for the better.

Have you gone through any major life changes since appearing on the first cover of The Positive Side in 2001?
I believe I am healthier, stronger and more outspoken. I’m also more selfish with regards to the time I volunteer or commit to the HIV/AIDS movement because I’ve been living with HIV for more than two decades now and I have to balance what I give my energy, health and expertise to.

In one word, describe this moment in AIDS.

In 10 years…
I hope to document the stigma and negligence faced by the most vulnerable HIV-positive people in the medical system in Canada.

What song is the soundtrack of your life?
At this point I am drawn to “Wandering Star” by Portishead. For the early years I’d have to say “Pretty Brown” by David Campbell.