This article was published online in 2017
Troy Vincent Lovegrove (1985–1993), HIV-AIDS child activist, was born on 25 June 1985 at Paddington, Sydney, only child of Western Australian-born Vincent James Lovegrove, company director, musician, and rock band manager, and American-born Susan Marie Papaleo, actress, dancer, and choreographer, formerly known as Suzi Sidewinder. His parents married later that year, and soon after Suzi and Troy both tested positive to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Suzi’s struggle with HIV-AIDS was portrayed in the 1987 television documentary Suzi’s Story; it won Australian Human Rights and Logie awards, and was nominated for an Emmy award. As a result of the documentary, Suzi Lovegrove was one of the first heterosexual women in Australia to be so publicly identified with HIV-AIDS. Troy contracted HIV in the womb before his mother was aware that she was living with the disease, and his survival as an infant was incorporated into Suzi’s Story. This publicity made his childhood a prominent one in Australia, and highlighted the issue of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS at a time when there was little public awareness that this was possible.
Following Suzi’s death in 1987, Troy was the subject of his own documentary, A Kid Called Troy (1993), which followed his experiences in 1992 and 1993. His father, who had previously managed well-known Australian bands such as the Divinyls, wrote a book with the same title to accompany the program. The film did much to raise the profile of HIV-AIDS amongst the broader Australian community and, in particular, the position of children who were living with the condition. It was shown at international events such as the Columbus International Film & Video Festival (1994) and the Golden Gate Awards of the San Francisco Film Society (1994). Troy did not live to see it air on Australian television.
In the documentary Troy was shown requiring extensive medical assistance and undergoing experimental medical procedures. He was also seen attending Coogee Public School and participating in everyday activities such as gym classes. His experiences of a supportive community were in sharp contrast to those of Eve van Grafhorst, an HIV-positive child who had faced such a level of discrimination and prejudice in Kincumber, New South Wales, that her parents moved with her to New Zealand in 1986.
A Kid Called Troy presented the humanity of people living with HIV-AIDS and the difficulties experienced by their families at a time when prejudice against AIDS was widespread. It also promoted the fact that HIV-AIDS could not be transmitted through casual non-sexual contact. During his short life, Troy used media attention to continue to challenge prejudices about HIV-AIDS. In 1990 he and his father helped launch the AIDS Trust of Australia’s paediatric fund-raising project ‘Kids With Aids.’ After Troy’s death, Vince would continue to agitate for HIV-AIDS education.
Brave and mature beyond his years, Troy ‘amazed doctors with his will to live and to bounce back’ from illness (Leedham 1993, 32). He died at the age of seven on 3 June 1993 at home in Randwick, survived by his father and his older half-sister, Holly, from his father’s previous marriage; he was cremated. Four hundred mourners attended his memorial service at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Randwick, Sydney. The rock musician Jimmy Barnes, Vince’s friend and professional colleague, performed ‘A Little Bit of Love,’ a song he had written about Troy.
Shirleene Robinson, 'Lovegrove, Troy Vincent (1985–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lovegrove-troy-vincent-19017/text30621, published online 2017, accessed online 30 April 2017.
photo supplied by family