Happy Days Are Here Again
With her uplifting weekly blog radio talk show, Davina Conner, aka Pozitively Dee, helps individuals living with and at risk for HIV find the support they need
by Connie Rose
Photographed Exclusively for A&U by Sean Black
Every Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (MST), Davina Conner, known to her fans everywhere and on social media as Pozitively Dee, hosts a live call-in talk radio show called “Pozitively Dee’s HIV/AIDS Discussion,” provided by Ronald Spikes of Blogtalktradio.com. The topics of her show center around HIV issues across the spectrum of people affected by the virus. (If you can’t call in, the show is also available in real time online, or listeners can choose previously recorded shows from website links.)
She begins every show saying that HIV still exists because she fears that, with the miraculous advancements in medication, people are forgetting how “at risk” they may still be for contracting HIV. She advocates for all HIV-positive people equally and, while her fan base may be modest, it is steadily growing. She hopes that people, along their way to building better lives for themselves, can stop in and listen to her shows so they can begin learning from the open, honest, raw, funny and insightful conversations that she allows on her show.
Being an advocate is something she feels she needs to do, not only for herself but for her two beautiful daughters. Davina wants to do her part by adding her voice to the growing group of strong positive women in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in their lifetime.
This talk show is her way of giving every community the support that she, along with many “middle kids,” or those individuals (including myself) diagnosed with HIV in the last twenty years, struggled to find as the generation that came before, the HIV Long-Term Survivors and others, were busy advocating for all of us to have the lifesaving medications and health advancements from which we benefit today. These early trailblazers are also the people who began to build the core support groups that we are now helping to add to.
Take my word for it—call into her show and listen to her and see if what I’m saying is true. This remarkable woman displays a genuine character, fusing the qualities of love and compassion with a desire to right wrongs with equality and fairness that extends to her brothers and sisters around the world, not just here in the United States. I call into her show almost every Saturday and have heard many men and women calling in from places like Africa, where #treatmentforall isn’t just a trending hashtag, it’s a real issue—people are still dying from a lack of proper and easily accessible healthcare.
Every week on her social media outlets, Pozitively Dee will share a sneak peek of upcoming topics for the Saturday show, giving her audience ample opportunity to get ready with questions, ideas, and even input that they can contribute to the show by pushing #1 on their phones and entering the conversation in real time. She doesn’t restrict her audience other than asking them to stay on topic and offer constructive, helpful information.
Davina’s ability to stay neutral, remain calm, cool and collected, during times of extreme emotions comes from her experience of nearly twenty years living with HIV. When someone is dealing with a new diagnosis, the feelings can range from fear to wanting to commit acts of violence or bodily harm against themselves. Having experienced all of these same thoughts and feelings during her time “living with,” she is able to give helpful direction in every situation.
One such call happened during my first time calling into the show to listen. A young man, newly diagnosed, called into the show not long after a positive reactive HIV test with thoughts of not only killing himself, but also killing the man from whom he contracted HIV. Pozitively Dee and her other callers all talked this young man down and gave him the information that he needed to know (mainly, that HIV is not a death sentence anymore). They gave him the support he needed; they let him know he was not alone with his diagnosis, and made him realize there is life after a positive HIV diagnosis. Today that young man is the founder of an ASO less than one year after his diagnosis instead of ending up another statistic, in prison, or, worse, gone forever. Her show helped save his life and possibly the lives of countless more with nothing more than an open, honest, discussion about HIV and by giving him the tools he needed to become a “thriver.”
Not all shows are so dramatic, though; some are very light, comedic, just downright funny!
Another wonderful fact about Pozitively Dee’s Blog Talk Radio show is that she is reaching HIV-negative individuals in the world. Proof of that can be found on Friday nights during a new show hosted by Colette C’ann Perkins a personal friend, who had heard Pozitively Dee’s show and wanted to help make a difference in her world by creating a show to help empower men and women in their day to day lives. Her show’s topics consist mostly around women’s issues but are not limited to any specific demographic or cause.
Reaching those who are HIV-negative is one of the greatest challenges for an HIV advocate and Pozitively Dee has found a platform that is confidential without fault where people can simply dial a phone number, listen or join in the show, and also get and give support.
Most Saturday afternoons when I call in to listen to Pozitively Dee in action I leave my phone on speaker and listen as I do work, clean the house, run errands and I laugh, I cry. Over that hour and a half show my emotions fly across the spectrum of choices—ranging from angry, sad, back to happy—depending upon the speaker and their story.
Recently, Davina and I had this discussion during a video chat that she began as she does almost every one of our conversations and it always makes me smile: “Happy Day, Connie Rose! How are you today?”
Connie Rose: Happy Day, Miss D! Would you mind telling me about your call-in show and explain to me how the callers and their topics affect the advocacy work you do, please.
Davina Conner, aka Pozitively Dee: My talk radio/podcast show on blogtalkradio.com has been the greatest thing and I thank Ronald Spikes for giving me the chance to do the show.
I use my show as a platform to educate the community on various topics about HIV/AIDS—ending stigma, transgender, LGBT, PrEP, our youth, ADA laws, mental health, organizations, HIV criminalization, and the list goes on, but the shows that affect me and that I love the most are the ones when someone comes on the show and shares their HIV story for the first time. There are so many stories and not one have I heard is the same, at all. The lovely part about [calling in] is you don’t have to give your name and you can finally [exhale] from holding [in] your story. It helps those who have kept it a secret for so long and my show gives them that start. If anybody wants to come on the show as a guest, contact me. I turn no one away. I appreciate all of the support it’s because of the listeners that I have my show.
How long have you been on the air and what are your future hopes and goals for your advocacy?
It’s been two and a half years since I started and I will soon be looking for sponsors to keep the show on the air giving my sponsors a commercial slot that will play over the twenty-four-hour network that blog talk has. I’m in the process of getting my nonprofit back with a 501(c)(3). I will use Poz Haven for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to come for support, advocating for heterosexuals, advocating for Black communities, educating to our children the importance of protecting themselves and getting tested. Blacks have the highest rate of infection and I must reach out to them because they’re not taking [HIV] seriously, so many forget HIV still exists.
What is the most recent campaign you are working on?
I am now working to advocate for heterosexual men and this is a cause I feel is needed. There are many heterosexual men diagnosed with HIV who are ashamed; they hide and suffer in silence with very few people advocating for them. I believe this will lead other heterosexual men to get tested and, in turn, will help stop the spread of the disease.
I’ve been working with Bernard Young and together we came up with The Bow Tie Movement a campaign to get others’ attention on heterosexual men who have been diagnosed with HIV. Those people who choose to support the men will be wearing a bow tie. It shows boldness and sophistication; the bow tie should be a way to represent all heterosexual men with HIV/AIDS no matter their race or religion, to raise awareness, and to stop the stigma and self-stigma among men with HIV/AIDS showing them we support them.
Here’s a three-part question for yo Dee. What have some of your personal struggles been since your diagnosis? From where have you risen since you were first diagnosed? And finally are there plans to make room for love—other than your work, family, and friends—to have a place back in your life?
Living with HIV for 19 years has been a challenge for me and I know it has been for so many others, too. The meds have come a long way; I have come a long way from 1997. I remember being so sick from the fourteen meds that I used to take and drinking alcohol to cope with the sickness from the meds. There were days I wish I wasn’t here so I wouldn’t have to be so sick, but my daughter kept me going. Today I am much happier with my life and the meds. I am now on two pills, which are Reyataz and Stribild; my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 [count] is 1,000.
I am thankful and wish my family and friends could see through my eyes how I view life. What a beauty I see in life and in everyone. I will advocate for all no matter who it is. My heart is big and sometimes it’s too much, but I keep on going. Soon I will have my bachelor’s degree in Public Health. I have six more months to go and I am very excited about that. And yes there is love in my life! I have met good man after being by myself for five years. He is my best friend. It’s hard to believe that someone can care so much about you. Guess it’s true what they say about being patient.
To participate in Pozitively Dee’s HIV/AIDS Discussion, dial 347-855-8118 every Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (MST). For schedules and to listen online (or check out past shows), visit: www.blogtalkradio.com (and search for “Pozitively Dee”). To contact or follow Davina Conner/Pozitively Dee, she is on Twitter @DavinaConner.
Connie Rose acquired HIV at twenty-one years of age from her husband because she didn’t ask for an HIV test before they married and if he did know he didn’t tell her. Forty-one, Connie Rose is a mother and grandmother living in Las Vegas, Nevada, changing the world one blog at a time. When she is not writing for multiple ticket venues, including the Vegastickets website, she manages and writes for her own website, livingpos.com, an information and blogging site dedicated to the four H’s in the STD community. She also is an advocate in her local community and on social media. Follow Connie Rose on Twitter @Cricketlv.