We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!

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Thursday, Sept. 21

ISSUE: It’s now or never. Senate Republicans have just over a week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the devastating Graham-Cassidy proposal is gaining steam, even though it will do exactly what previous repeal bills would have done: strip health care from millions; end protections for pre-existing conditions; allow insurers to refuse coverage for essential health benefits like prescription drugs, hospitalization, lab work, contraceptives, and reproductive health; and decimate Medicaid, on which over 40% of people living with HIV rely to stay healthy. Continue reading “We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

Disparities in Health Outcomes, Barriers to Care Are About More Than Just Access

 

Updated Sept. 10

September 8, United States Conference on AIDS, 2017. Washington, D.C.: Black men wait 32% longer to cross the street than white men, according to a study from Portland, Oregon. Males in their 20s, identically dressed, had very distinct experiences: While the white men waited only 7.4 seconds to cross, Black men waited an average of 9.79 seconds for a driver to yield after signaling their intention to cross.

Such an anecdote, at first glance, seems to have little to do with health care. Yet—as Dr. David Williams of Harvard University, the keynote speaker at the opening plenary of the 2017 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA), illustrated with diverse statistics—the overlap between structural racism that people of color, particularly Black people, face every day and significantly lower health outcomes is impossible to ignore. Even Black people with a college degree have a shorter life expectancy than white people without a high school diploma. When it comes to health disparities, there are systemic problems that run even deeper than the already very real and widely acknowledged problem of lack of access to poor and working class people. Continue reading “Disparities in Health Outcomes, Barriers to Care Are About More Than Just Access”

PWN-USA Announces SPEAK UP! 2018; 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

**For Immediate Release**

Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo, jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org, 347.553.5174

September 8, 2017: Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) is proud to announce that we will be celebrating our first decade of sisterhood, solidarity and action by hosting our third National Leadership Summit, which will take place April 12-15, 2018 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Building on past years of success and responding to the current political moment, SPEAK UP! 2018: A National Leadership Summit for Women will be designed to provide political education, leadership skills, policy advocacy, and voter engagement training to up to 350 women, including women of trans experience, living with HIV. Continue reading “PWN-USA Announces SPEAK UP! 2018; 10-Year Anniversary Celebration”

Here to Stay: #DefendDACA, Protect Immigrants Today

September 5, 2017: This country was built and continues to be sustained by immigrant love and labor.

But today, the current administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, placing nearly 900,000 young immigrants, their families and loved ones, at risk, because of their commitment to a white nationalist agenda – that white supremacy be maintained at any human or economic cost. The administration has given Congress a six-month window to come up with a legislative fix. Our fight to protect immigrant safety, rights and dignity begins today and will continue every single day. We will not stand by while immigrants are torn from their families, their loved ones, and their lives. Every member of Congress must commit to protect immigrants. Continue reading “Here to Stay: #DefendDACA, Protect Immigrants Today”

Do USCA with PWN-USA!

 

USCA logo 2017

August 31, 2017: Heading to the US Conference on AIDS 2017 next week? PWN members and allies will be in full effect! Our dynamic and fierce members will be sitting on panels and leading discussions in workshops and plenaries. Check out our full list of recommended sessions below and join in the conversation! Continue reading “Do USCA with PWN-USA!”

Our Resistance Recess Toolkit Has Lots of Ideas and Resources to Take Action This August Recess!

August 8: We did it! Through people power, we killed the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act! At least for now, and just by one vote. We have lots of work ahead of us.

All members of Congress are home for the August recess. They’ll be in district hosting town halls, public events, and meeting with their constituents. When they come back in September, they’ll be voting on a number of pieces of legislation, as well as the federal budget. The Republican fight to dismantle the social safety net, including health care, funding for Medicaid and food stamps, is not over. Will you take the pledge to be active during #ResistanceRecess to #ProtectOurCare and the #HIVBudget?  

To help you plan your next steps, check out our brand-new, hot-off-the-presses Resistance Recess Toolkit. Use it and share with your friends and fellow activists!

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Shyronn Jones, PWN-USA Policy Fellow, visits GA Sen. David Purdue’s office

We Won.

July 28: Let it sink in. Savor it. If victory is sweet, this is a whole chocolate cake with ice cream, whipped cream and cherries on top. The efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have died. And it’s all because of dedicated, determined advocates and activists like us.

We knew from the beginning that this was about far more than just politics. This was about our lives. So many of us gained real insurance coverage for the first time thanks to the ACA, whether through Medicaid expansion or because of its protections for preexisting conditions, its subsidies, its prohibition on lifetime caps or any of the myriad improvements it brought us.

For some of us, and for some of those we love, this has meant the difference between financial stability and bankruptcy–or even between life and death. Continue reading “We Won.”

White House Sanctions Anti-Trans Dehumanization and Discrimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tiommi Luckett, Communications Assistant, Positive Women’s Network – USA

501-258-3973 | tluckett.pwnusa@gmail.com

July 26, 2017, Washington, DC- Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) condemns the Trump administration’s vicious dehumanization of people who are trans and gender non conforming.  This morning, via Twitter, Trump announced a ban on all forms of military service for transgender people, ungrammatically and incorrectly claiming that “transgender in the military” would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Trump’s inherent premise that some bodies are transgressive, disruptive, and by nature troublesome is at the very root of violence and discrimination faced by people who are trans and gender non conforming (TGNC) – violence which too often is deadly, especially for TGNC people of color. This directive from the White House comes just weeks after the Republican-led US House rejected an amendment to dismantle medical rights of trans folks in the military. The amendment would have denied medical care required for gender transition, including prescription medications and surgeries.

According to Tiommi Luckett, PWN-USA’s Communications Assistant and a black woman of trans experience, “Trump’s tweets are just an amplified example of willful ignorance and unchecked stupidity about trans people and our bodies, which seems to always be the focus of conversation. This is one reason why our rights as human beings are infringed upon categorically, including our rights to housing, education, access to public facilities, healthcare and employment. Our bodies, our appearances and our experiences are deemed unworthy of equal protection and fair access, and hateful rhetoric from the White House basically makes it open season to legislate discrimination. Trans people are not liabilities, nor are we sub-human. And our fight is not for equality, but for equity.”

“We are humans. We are Americans, and we demand the same opportunity as everyone else,” said Naiymah Sanchez, Transgender Advocacy Coordinator at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Arneta Rogers, Policy Director at PWN-USA said “It does not escape our notice that the particular battleground for this war on some bodies is the military, but we fight back for the right to self-determination and full participation for people of all gender identities. No body in service to their country should ever been deemed a “burden”.  We will not stop fighting until all of us are free

PWN-USA will always fight for the humanity, dignity, and full rights of our trans siblings, members, and family to be recognized by the state and by society. These attacks from the highest office in the land pose a direct danger to the safety and human rights of people of trans experience. The administration must reverse and apologize for this ban immediately. 

UPDATE: 500+ to Occupy Offices of All GOP Senators Who Do Not Speak Up Against ACA Repeal

We haven’t won yet.

Today, more than 500 constituents will OCCUPY THE OFFICES OF ALL GOP SENATORS WHO DO NOT SPEAK UP AGAINST ACA REPEAL

Wherever you are, help keep up the pressure to #KillRepeal!

Thanks to your unwavering efforts, we #KilledtheBill. But the fight is not over yet!  Senate leadership is resorting to a last ditch nuclear option to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement, which will do even more harm.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote next week on the ACA Repeal bill that would:

  • End the Medicaid expansion and all premium tax credits and cost sharing subsidies while ending the individual mandate
  • Leave 18 million Americans uninsured during the first year it takes effect
  • Leave 32 million Americans uninsured by 2026
  • Increase premiums by 25% within the first year and 100% by 2026

Continue reading “UPDATE: 500+ to Occupy Offices of All GOP Senators Who Do Not Speak Up Against ACA Repeal”

500+ Constituents of All 52 Republican Senators to Occupy Capitol Hill Offices to Tell Them: “Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us!”

Contact: Jennifer Flynn, Center for Popular Democracy, 917 517-5202  •  jflynn@populardemocracy.org Paul Davis, Housing Works, 202 817 0129p.davis@housingworks.org

**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 19**

500+ CONSTITUENTS OF ALL 52 REPUBLICAN SENATORS TO OCCUPY CAPITOL HILL OFFICES TO TELL THEM: “KILL THE BILL, DON’T KILL US!”

Following the huge direct actions of June 28 and July 10, in which 140 Americans, including many with serious health conditions, were arrested in their Senator’s DC offices for civil disobedience, still more constituents plan to flood Capitol Hill Wednesday to stop the repeal of the ACA.

People with disabilities and life-threatening chronic illnesses, cancer survivors, Medicaid recipients, Affordable Care Act (ACA) policyholders, registered nurses, doctors, and others directly impacted by the Senate healthcare bill will be traveling from all states represented by Republican Senators to descend upon Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 19, with a strong message: “Kill the bill—don’t kill us!” Continue reading “500+ Constituents of All 52 Republican Senators to Occupy Capitol Hill Offices to Tell Them: “Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us!””

“Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us!”: On Capitol Hill and at Home, PWN Members and Allies Take Action to Stop Trumpcare

July 12, 2017: This Monday, July 10, four PWN-USA members as well as a number of allies joined over 100 other constituents from 21 states in descending on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with a very clear, explicit message for their members of Congress: “Kill the bill, don’t kill us!”

19904937_10155411443807412_935741091200797600_nPWN-USA’s Board Chair and PWN-USA Colorado Co-Chair Barb Cardell, Colorado member Mary Jane Maestas, Ohio member Olga Irwin, Florida member Lepena Reid and PWN-USA’s communications director Jennie Smith-Camejo participated in the sit-ins. Barb, Olga and Jennie were among the 80+ protesters arrested for civil disobedience. (You can see Barb still carrying the message in handcuffs above.) Continue reading ““Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us!”: On Capitol Hill and at Home, PWN Members and Allies Take Action to Stop Trumpcare”

100+ Constituents Occupy D.C. Congressional Offices, Demand “Don’t Kill Us, Kill the Bill!”

Patients with pre-existing conditions and health providers from at least 21 states to occupy numerous Republican offices in acts of civil disobedience to unwelcome elected officials on their first day back from recess

July 10, 2017: WASHINGTON D.C. – Constituents afraid of losing their healthcare, many of them with serious health conditions, have traveled from their homes in at least 21 states around the country to Washington D.C. Monday, July 10 to occupy the offices of their members of Congress to stop  the Republican healthcare bill. Continue reading “100+ Constituents Occupy D.C. Congressional Offices, Demand “Don’t Kill Us, Kill the Bill!””

PWNers Work to #KillTheBill from Coast to Coast

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Masonia Traylor at the People’s Filibuster in Washington, DC, June 27

Members of Positive Women’s Network-USA have dedicated enormous time and energy to stop the GOP repeal of the Affordable Care Act, first through the House Republicans’ “American Health Care Act” (AHCA), and now through the Senate Republicans’ “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA). We are fully aware that it has been a long haul, but the fight is not over yet. So we must keep that same momentum and fierce determination to #ProtectOurCare as we battle Trumpcare in the Senate.

We are in this fight together. Here are just a few things that our fierce PWN members and allies have been doing to spread awareness and stop this dangerous bill:

  • PWN-USA OH member Olga Irwin participated in a protest outside Sen. Portman’sOlga AHCA protest office and spoke to the media about her concerns with how Trumpcare could harm people living with HIV.
  • PWN-USA Board Member Venita Ray from Texas organized a phone bank in Houston: 5 people made 257 calls on Monday 6/26!
  • PWN-USA Colorado members have been protesting outside Senator Cory Gardner’s office in Denver, CO, and have been trying to chase him down during the recess–and recording and posting videos addressed to him, since he is dodging his constituents.
  • PWN-USA Board Member and PWN-USA TX Senior Member Evany Turk organized a 30 young adults to phone bank target Senators while visiting her mother in Chicago.
  • PWNer Masonia Traylor from Atlanta, GA, provided powerful testimony at the People’s Filibuster in Washington, DC. (see photo at top of story)
  • PWN-USA’s Executive Director Naina Khanna also spoke at this event (see photo below).Naina DC rally
  • PWN-USA Policy Fellow Shyronn Jones organized a meeting with Senator Perdue for July 6th, by using the PWN-USA Action Alert template to request an appointment with Senator Perdue, found a form on his website to request a meeting and got a meeting with State Director and State Policy Director. She also submitted an op-ed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • PWNers Gina Brown and Grissel Granados were among the 6 members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS who resigned June 14 in protest of the administration’s lack of strategy or focus on the epidemic, highlighting the disastrous health care bills as evidence of its disregard for people living with and vulnerable to HIV.
  • PWNer Gina Brown submitted an op-ed to the Times-Picayune about her decision to leave PACHA, and was also interviewed and quoted by the Daily Beast, TheBody.com, and The Hill about her decision.
  • PWNer Grissel Granados had an op-ed published in SELF Magazine about her decision to resign from the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
  • PWNer Connie Rose from Las Vegas organized a phone bank in Nevada.
  • PWN ally Bryan Jones organized a phone bank in Cleveland.
  • PWN-USA Policy Fellow Arianna Lint participated in a protest of the health care bill outside Sen. Marco Rubio’s office.

Continue reading “PWNers Work to #KillTheBill from Coast to Coast”

Your Help Is Needed Immediately to #KillTheBill.

AHCA email banner finalURGENT: The U.S. Senate is likely to vote next week to decimate healthcare for people living with HIV.

The result will be unnecessary death and suffering.

That is why today, Thursday, June 22, we, the undersigned, are issuing this urgent emergency call for a nationwide mobilization to defeat the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) and replace it with their deadly “American Health Care Act” (AHCA, or “Trumpcare”).

We implore people living with HIV (PLHIV) and everyone who loves us to take IMMEDIATE ACTION to contact your Senators to kill the AHCA. PWN-USA has put together a #KillTheBill Resource Center to provide you with the tools you need to make an impact.   Continue reading “Your Help Is Needed Immediately to #KillTheBill.”

PACHA Members Living with HIV Resign: “We will be more effective from the outside”

A quarter of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Resigns in Protest, Including Majority of PACHA Members Living with HIV

Contact: Gina Brown: 504.458.5247; Grissel Granados: 562.965.0055; Scott Schoettes: 773.474.9250

June 16, 2017: Today, 6 of the 21 members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned, including three of the five members who are living with HIV. PACHA advises the President and federal agencies on the domestic response to the HIV epidemic. Under President Obama, PACHA was responsible for helping to monitor implementation of the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy and passed resolutions to increase federal focus on women, transgender people, and youth, as well as calling for an end to laws criminalizing people living with HIV. Resigning members expressed frustration with an administration that values neither their insight on ending the epidemic nor the very lives of people living with and vulnerable to HIV. Positive Women’s Network stands with and supports the resigning people living with HIV, Gina Brown, Grissel Granados, and Scott Schoettes, and applauds them for their leadership and service. Continue reading “PACHA Members Living with HIV Resign: “We will be more effective from the outside””

Celebrating 9 Years of Fierce Leadership of Women Living with HIV

Naina Web Headshot 2Special Message from the Executive Director

Dear PWN Community,

This month, Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) celebrates our ninth year of fierce leadership by and for women living with HIV. As PWN-USA’s executive director and a woman living with HIV, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have collectively accomplished or more honored to serve in this capacity.

When PWN-USA was founded in June 2008 by 28 women with HIV, including folks of trans experience, the presence of our communities at policy- and decision-making tables in the HIV arena was heartbreakingly scant. Very few women living with HIV were well-recognized as leaders in the movement. There was no collective voice speaking on behalf of our communities. And, in large part because of structural racism, classism, transphobia, and poverty, those most frequently sought out as advisors were not those most reflective of the U.S. epidemic.

Today, that has changed, and we have built a strong and diverse movement. PWN is proud to be part of a transformation of the HIV landscape towards meaningful leadership by people living with HIV, with an emphasis on people of color, low-income folks, and folks of trans experience. In 2017, these communities are not only visible in HIV work; we are currently leading some of the most innovative, intersectional, and urgent battles for our collective liberation, including access to quality health care and economic justice; fighting for human rights and dignity.

PWN-USA is committed to fundamentally shift who is in power and how power is held by cultivating leadership and building power in the communities most impacted by the epidemic, while using transformative practices in our own organizing.

Read more about how we’ve done that and our herstory here.

In today’s political climate, our work is more urgent and necessary than ever. We’re getting ready to scale up our resistance, and we need your support. Continue reading “Celebrating 9 Years of Fierce Leadership of Women Living with HIV”

PWN-USA and SERO Project Announce 2018 HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy in Indianapolis

         sero_pwn_cropFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Ken Pinkela: ken.pinkela@seroproject.com or Jennie Smith-Camejo: jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org

May 15, 2017:  Building on the amazing success of the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy last year, the SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA are pleased to announce that the planning process is underway for the third HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy to support repeal or modernization of laws criminalizing the alleged non-disclosure, perceived or potential exposure or transmission of HIV. The training academy will be held at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) June 3-6, 2018.

Continue reading “PWN-USA and SERO Project Announce 2018 HIV Is Not a Crime National Training Academy in Indianapolis”

This #MothersDay, Help #FreeMichaelJohnson and Bring Him Home to His Mom

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May 11, 2017: This Sunday will mark the fourth Mother’s Day that Tracy Johnson has had to spend separated from Michael, her youngest son. That’s how long he has been incarcerated under Missouri’s archaic and draconian HIV criminalization laws, following a trial marred by racism and homophobia.

But recently, Michael and his mom finally got some good news: this past December, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, reversed his conviction based on the prosecution’s failure to turn over important evidence in a timely fashion. But Michael is not out of the woods yet. In order for Michael to have a chance to get his life back, he needs the best legal counsel available at the new trial that will take place sometime soon. This is where your help is needed Continue reading “This #MothersDay, Help #FreeMichaelJohnson and Bring Him Home to His Mom”

We Love You. We Will Keep Fighting for You.

May 4, 2017

Dear PWN Community,

We love you. We promise to keep fighting for, and alongside, you.

Today, 217 members of the House knowingly voted to strip over 24 million people of their health care, and make insurance more expensive and less comprehensive for everyone else. Continue reading “We Love You. We Will Keep Fighting for You.”

All hands on deck to #ProtectOurCare!

 

May 3, 2017: This is not a drill, y’all. House Republicans are at it again, attempting to slash and burn health care access for millions of people in the US! In fact, they believe they have the votes lined up for a vote TOMORROW. We could lose health care that 1.2 million people with HIV and one in four Americans with pre-existing conditions depend on for survival.

We have been calling on you a lot but we urgently need you right now. If you do nothing else, call your representative RIGHT NOW to OPPOSE the Amended American Health Care Act (AHCA) Repeal Bill.  We are looking to move folks into the NO column below. Speak up and demand that your elected officials oppose the AHCA. Because our lives depend on it. Continue reading “All hands on deck to #ProtectOurCare!”

This May Day, Join the HIV Community Movement for Expanded Sanctuary

A Joint Statement from Counter Narrative Project, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, Positive Women’s Network – USA, TransLatin@ Coalition, Treatment Action Group, the US People Living with HIV Caucus and Venas Abiertas

Leer en español aquí

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well…

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land…

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire…
– excerpted from “Home” by Warsan Shire

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Graphic by Design Action Collective

May 1, 2017: Emigrating entails hardship and sacrifice: leaving loved ones, a community and valued possessions behind; sometimes learning a new language and a new culture. Throughout history, people have courageously made these difficult and sometimes heartbreaking choices for their own preservation, to seek or to provide a better future for their loved ones. Yet today, tens of millions of people, driven by the same aspirations and values this country claims to cherish, live in agonizing fear for their safety–because a minority of the United States elected to its highest office a demagogue who found his path to victory in scapegoating and marginalizing them. He has already translated his dangerous, divisive rhetoric into policies that run contrary to the U.S. Constitution and to the most basic of the values it enshrines. Continue reading “This May Day, Join the HIV Community Movement for Expanded Sanctuary”

Stop Zombie Trumpcare!

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April 27, 2017: The House Freedom Caucus has officially endorsed a revised Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, delivering a fresh burst of momentum to the GOP’s efforts to revive its stalled health care effort. Read more here.

This new version of the GOP repeal bill the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be even worse for people with HIV. It would allow states to opt of providing essential health benefits and charge people with pre-existing conditions like HIV higher premiums. The initial bill would have left 24 million uninsured. This bill will leave coverage out of reach for even more Americans. Please tell your Congressional representative to OPPOSE the Amended AHCA Repeal Bill.

Now is not the time to be silent. Speak up and demand that your elected officials oppose the American Health Care Act. Speak up–your voice matters!

Republicans and Democrats need to hear from you! Call your Representative in the House of Representatives TODAY, at (866) 246-9371.  This number is toll-free and will connect you with your Representative. Here is what you can say:

Hello my name is _______ and I live in [city, state & zip]. I am a person [living with HIV /concerned about HIV]. I am calling to demand that you vote against the American Health Care Act. The American Health Care Act will hurt people living with and vulnerable to HIV by making it harder and more expensive to get the care they need. All Americans deserve better. I urge you to support people living with and vulnerable to HIV and oppose the American Health Care Act.

Target list is below.

If you are authorized to sign your organization onto a letter opposing the amended AHCA, please sign on here.

This Friday, the House could very well pass a bill that many analysts characterize as worse than the original version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA, which would have dismantled many ACA protections for people with viral hepatitis). In addition to stripping Medicaid funding for the most vulnerable communities, the new bill would allow states to:

  • Let insurers charge people higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions
  • Eliminate the law’s essential health benefits requirements that guarantee coverage for things like mental health care, prescription drugs, and maternity care

The defeat of this bill now depends on the willingness of moderate House Republicans to vote NO on the legislation. We urge you to contact your representative now and tell them to vote NO on the Amended AHCA.

Below you will find a list categorizing representatives based on their stance regarding the Amended AHCA:

TARGETS WHO HAVE ALREADY RECONFIRMED NO ON THE NEW, WORSE REPEAL BILL

NJ-02 Frank LoBiondo
NJ-07 Leonard Lance
NY-11 Dan Donovan
PA-15 Charlie Dent
PA-08 Brian Fitzpatrick
FL-27 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
CA-10 Jeff Denham

TARGETS WHO OPPOSED AHCA BUT NEED TO GET THEM ON THE RECORD NOW RECONFIRMING OPPOSITION TO THE  NEW, WORSE REPEAL BILL

AK-AL Don Young
IA-03 David Young
MD-01 Andy Harris
NJ_11 Rodney Frelinghuysen
NJ-02 Glenn Thompson
NJ-04 Chris Smith
NV-02 Mark Amodei
NY-24 John Katko
OH-10 Mike Turner
OH-14 Dave Joyce
TX-23 Will Hurd
VA-01 Rob Wittman
VA-10 Barbara Comstock
WA-03 Jaime Herrera Beutler


TARGETS WHO SUPPORTED OR WERE UNDECIDED ON AHCA AND NEED TO GET TO OPPOSE THE NEW, WORSE REPEAL BILL

AZ-02 Martha McSally
CA-08 Paul Cook
CA-21 David Valadao
CA-25 Steve Knight
CA-39 Ed Royce
CA-45 Mimi Walters
CA-48 Dana Rohrabacher
CA-49 Darrell Issa
CO-03 Scott Tipton
CO-06 Mike Coffman
FL-18 Brian Mast
FL-25 Mario Diaz-Balart
FL-26 Carlos Curbelo
IL-06 Peter Roskam
IL-12 Mike Bost
IL-13 Rodney Davis
IL-14 Randy Hultgren
ME-02 Bruce Poliquin
MN-02 Jason Lewis
MN-03 Erik Paulsen
NE-02 Don Bacon
NY-02 Peter King
NY-19 John Faso
NY-21 Elise Stefanik
NY-22 Claudia Tenney
OH-07 Bob Gibbs
PA-06 Ryan Costello
PA-07 Pat Meehan
PA-18 Tim Murphy
TX-23 Will Hurd
WA-08 David Reichert

TARGETS TO HOLD ACCOUNTABLE

NJ-03 Tom MacArthur
OH-16 Jim Renacci

Thank you in advance for making your call today.

Announcing the 2017 PWN Policy Fellows!

March 31, 2017: We are thrilled to be launching the PWN-USA Policy Fellows, an inaugural program to build the policy leadership bench for women, including women of trans experience, directly impacted by the epidemic and historically underrepresented in the federal health policy advocacy arena. The program kicks off on April 7 when Fellows will embark on a yearlong training, where they will develop skills in policy analysis, research, coalition and relationship building as emerging leaders in the field. For more information on the program, click here. To read the Fellows’ bios, click here.

Continue reading “Announcing the 2017 PWN Policy Fellows!”

PWN-USA Rocks AIDSWatch 2017!

March 31: Earlier this week, over 600 advocates from 34 states and the District of Columbia descended upon Capitol Hill for the largest AIDSWatch yet; Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) still made its mark. About 50 PWN-USA members participated in AIDSWatch 2017, some for the very first time, and some who have been coming for years. Continue reading “PWN-USA Rocks AIDSWatch 2017!”

On #NWGHAAD, PWNers Assert and Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy

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March 16, 2017: For National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (#NWGHAAD), PWNers from coast to coast hosted and participated in events, in person and online, raising awareness and educating our communities about HIV and its impact on women and girls and asserting the bodily autonomy of women living with HIV.

From the Women Living Conference in Atlanta (PWNer Shyronn Jones shares her experience there in this blog) to a special event focused on the theme of bodily autonomy in Philadelphia, PWN-USA members and regional chapters took advantage of the occasion to speak out, share our stories and advocate for our rights. You can see the events PWN-USA members and chapters hosted, participated in and/or presented at here. And check out the slideshow above! Continue reading “On #NWGHAAD, PWNers Assert and Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy”

On #NWGHAAD, We Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy

March 10, 2017: Today is National Women & Girls HIV Awareness Day. In honor of the approximately 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States, please join Positive Women’s Network – USA in asserting and celebrating the bodily autonomy of all women and girls living with HIV, including women of trans experience.

NWGHAAD 17 graphic v2-01Yesterday, we presented Bodily Autonomy: A Framework to Guide Our Future in a special webinar (watch the recording here!) Today at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST, we continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #NWGHAAD and #BodilyAutonomy with special guests from HIVE, SisterSong, Desiree Alliance, The Well Project, Positively Trans, Arianna’s Center and Prevention Access Campaign. We invite you to join the conversation online! You can also access our complete #NWGHAAD #BodilyAutonomy social media toolkit here, complete with sample social media posts and shareable graphics.

The Bodily Autonomy Framework is available here (Download the printer-friendly PDF version of this framework here.)

Women and girls living with HIV across the U.S.: Today, and every day, we honor you. Allies: Thank you for your continued support and commitment to upholding the rights of women living with HIV.

Bodily Autonomy: A Framework to Guide Our Future

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Feb. 17: In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), Positive Women’s Network – USA invites you to join us in asserting and celebrating the bodily autonomy of all women and girls, including women of trans experience, living with HIV.

What is “bodily autonomy,” and why talk about it now? 

Bodily autonomy is the simple but radical notion that individuals have a right to control what does and doesn’t happen to their bodies. This is central to PWN-USA’s vision of a world where all women and girls living with HIV can lead long, healthy, dignified lives, free from stigma, discrimination, and violence in all forms.

Please join us for a webinar on Thursday, March 9, at 3pm EST/12pm PST explaining bodily autonomy as a crucial framework for understanding and fighting the intensifying, oppressive attacks on women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBQ and trans folks, and people living with HIV and other chronic health conditions.

Confirmed presenters include:
Micky Bradford, Southern Regional Organizer, Transgender Law Center & Southerners on New Ground
Bré Campbell, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Trans Sistas of Color Project Detroit; Board Member, PWN-USA
Dázon Dixon Diallo, Founder & President, SisterLove Inc.
Ena Valladares, Director of Research, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

 

It will require all of us to demand a world where the bodily autonomy of all women and girls living with HIV is respected and upheld, including the right to control our reproductive decisions, health and labor; freedom of movement and migration; and freedom from state violence.

 

What: PWN-USA’s NWGHAAD Bodily Autonomy Webinar
When: Thurs., March 93-4:30pm ET/12-1:30pm PT
On March 10 at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST, NWGHAAD, we will continue this conversation on Twitter with special guests from HIVE, SisterSong, Desiree Alliance, Arianna’s Center, Prevention Access Campaign, The Well Project and Positively Trans! Join the conversation using the hashtags #NWGHAAD and #BodilyAutonomy!
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I Am My Sisters’ and Brothers’ Keeper

An Open Letter from Positive Women’s Network – USA in Observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)

February 7, 2017: From the moment the winner of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was announced, many of us of African descent have experienced disappointment, anger, outrage, and anxiety. A communal reaction to what some have dubbed a referendum against the human rights and dignity of people of color left some of us in physical shock, while confirming what others already knew to be true: This country, built on the genocide and enslavement of our ancestors and elders, continues to be plagued by deeply entrenched racism.

Now, three weeks into an administration that is quickly transforming the nation into something more closely resembling a neo-fascist totalitarian state than a democracy, 45 has made good on campaign promises by waging war on immigrants, Muslims, women, and poor people in a rapid-fire succession of assaultive policies intended to distract and create an environment of “shock and awe.” This traumatic environment, characterized by unbridled intolerance and suppression tactics, have left some folks confused and resigned to a seemingly daily assault on institutions, policy advances, and programs that have at times supported our journey from “bondage” to “freedom.” Yet our survival during this time, as always, depends on our ability to resist, love, and protect each other. We cannot stop now.

Continue reading “I Am My Sisters’ and Brothers’ Keeper”

California Lawmakers Announce Bill to Modernize Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
February 6, 2017

CONTACT: Jason Howe, Equality California
PHONE: 323-848-9801 MOBILE: 415-595-9245 EMAIL: jason@eqca.org

ca-crim-bill-presser

Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Gloria Announce Bill to Modernize Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws

Equality California, Positive Women’s Network – USA, ACLU and others join in support of bill to reform outdated laws enacted during a time of fear and ignorance to make them more consistent with laws involving other serious communicable diseases

San Francisco –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) introduced a bill to modernize laws that criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV. Assemblymember David Chiu is also a co-author of the bill. SB 239 would amend California’s HIV criminalization laws, enacted in the 1980s and ‘90s at a time of fear and ignorance about HIV and its transmission, to make them consistent with laws involving other serious communicable diseases. The bill is cosponsored by the ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Equality California, Lambda Legal and Positive Women’s Network – USA. The organizations are part of Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a broad coalition of people living with HIV, HIV and health service providers, civil rights organizations and public health professionals dedicated to ending the criminalization of HIV in California. San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy also attended the announcement.

Continue reading “California Lawmakers Announce Bill to Modernize Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws”

#WhyWeMarch: Toward Liberation and Justice

Art by Jennifer Maravillas
Art by Jennifer Maravillas

January 20, 2017: Today, a thin-skinned, authoritarian narcissist who lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes is being sworn into the highest office in the United States, and arguably the most powerful position in the world. He has shown utter contempt not only for women, Muslims, Latinx and Black people, immigrants and the LGBT community, but also for the Constitution and its most basic protections, including freedom of the press; democracy; facts; and human decency.

Tomorrow, members of Positive Women’s Network – USA will join hands with an estimated 200,000 women and others who believe in freedom, justice, and equality at the Women’s March on Washington, and with an estimated two million women at “sister marches” in 616 cities around the world.
Continue reading “#WhyWeMarch: Toward Liberation and Justice”

PWN-USA Launches Inaugural Class of Policy Fellowship!

January 19, 2017: Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) is proud to launch applications for our inaugural 2017-2018 Policy Fellowship for women living with HIV (WLHIV). The yearlong Policy Fellowship will advance our organizational mission to prepare and involve WLHIV in all levels of policy and decision-making by increasing participants’ ability to engage effectively in the federal policy and advocacy arena. In the current political environment marred by threats to sexual and reproductive rights, basic healthcare, the social safety net and civil and human rights, it is critical that WLHIV are equipped with a wide array of tools to support vibrant, visionary and strategic advocacy on behalf of their communities. Register for an informational webinar about the program and application process here.

The fellowship is open to all women living with HIV, including women of trans experience. We especially encourage young women, women of color, immigrant women, folks who are trans, LGB and gender nonconforming, who live in the South and who possess a strong desire to effect meaningful change in the lives of other WLHIV to apply.  Continue reading “PWN-USA Launches Inaugural Class of Policy Fellowship!”

Women of PWN Dismantling Racism

December 19, 2016

To the Positive Women’s Network Sisterhood and Allies –

At the 2016 PWN Speak Up Summit in Ft Walton Beach, white women living with HIV committed to study and challenge racism, within ourselves and in our communities. We promised to do this work even when it makes us uncomfortable. We want and need to stand with our Black and brown sisters living with HIV in the struggle for dignity, justice, and rights for us all. 

image-4The election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence has shaken this country to its core. As women living with HIV, we are gravely concerned about our ability to maintain our health and health care, housing, childcare, wages, and support services. As white women living with HIV, we are also frightened for the safety of our Black and brown sisters, cisgender and transgender, for our own Black and brown children, and for all members of non-white and non-Christian, non-heterosexual communities. As this wave of white supremacy crashes over our country, we commit to stand together and to fight alongside our Black and brown sisters and communities. 

Starting in January 2017, our newly formed group- Women of PWN Dismantling Racism, will initiate an antiracism curriculum by and for white women living with HIV. We will host webinars for all women living with HIV where we can meet, hear, learn, and support each other. As we do this, we will continue, on our own and through PWN, to monitor events in Washington, hold all our elected officials accountable and take action to fight anything that negatively affects marginalized communities or our Black or brown sisters in any way. We will continue fighting for justice for women living with HIV, our families and our communities.

We invite you all to be part of our kickoff webinar on January 17, 2017, 5:30 – 7 PM EST (2:30 – 4 PM PST) as we provide an overview of the curriculum goals and welcome those who want to participate in and support this work.  Please click here to register for the webinar.

In Sisterhood, Solidarity, and Action –

Women of PWN Dismantling Racism

 

 

A Price Too High – Speak Out Now!

December 16, 2016: Last month, the president-elect announced his decision to nominate ardent opponent of women’s health and the Affordable Care Act (ACA; a.k.a. “Obamacare”) Representative Tom Price (R-GA) to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and health policy consultant Seema Verma as the chief administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Who is Tom Price?

Rep. Price, who is formerly a practicing orthopedic surgeon, has a long record of opposing abortion access and other reproductive rights and has voted several times to defund Planned Parenthood. He has also been a leader in the charge to repeal the ACA and supports shifting Medicaid programs to block grant funding structures with less federal oversight and fewer protections for low-income people.

Who is Seema Verma?

Verma worked alongside Vice President-elect Mike Pence as a key architect of Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program, which erected barriers to low income people maintaining coverage, such as requiring enrollees at the poverty line to pay into the program and penalizing missed contributions with lockouts or more restrictive plans lacking benefits like dental coverage.

What does this mean?

Rep. Price’s leadership of HHS–the government agency that houses Health Resources Services Administration/Bureau of HIV/AIDS (HRSA HAB), home to the Ryan White CARE Act providing care and treatment to hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and most federal health related agencies–could have grave consequences for women living with HIV. With Price and Verma at the helm of the federal health care system, safety net coverage and assistance programs could see unconscionable cuts in the name of free-market approaches and “personal choice.” This could hinder access to lifesaving treatment and even further curtail the reproductive autonomy of women living with HIV, who are more likely to be low-income and rely on publicly funded coverage options.

For more information on what’s at stake for women’s health if the ACA is repealed under Price’s leadership:

http://www.raisingwomensvoices.net/if-i-lose-coverage

http://familiesusa.org/blog/2016/12/urban-institute-finds-30-million-could-lose-health-insurance-under-aca-repeal

For more information on projected changes to Medicaid and other safety net programs:

http://www.cbpp.org/research/health/medicaid-block-grant-would-slash-federal-funding-shift-costs-to-states-and-leave

Take Action!

Both Verma and Rep. Price will be subject to senate confirmation by majority vote but will first be vetted by two key committees, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Finance Committee, likely in the first few weeks of the new year. Before these hearings take place, it is critical that we hold our elected officials accountable to vigorously interrogate the records of these nominees and press them to answer tough questions about their plans to dismantle the nation’s health care safety net, as well as the sexual and reproductive health care delivery systems our communities rely heavily upon.

Check here to see if your senator is a member of the Senate HELP or Finance Committee and call, write and/or tweet them to express your opposition to Rep. Tom Price as our next HHS Secretary and Seema Verma as the next administrator of CMS.

Sample script for email or phone call
Dear Senator:
My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [your state and city]. I’m [writing or calling] to express my opposition to the nomination of Rep. Tom Price to lead our nation’s federal health care system. The ACA has expanded coverage to more than 20 million people including people living with HIV. Rep. Price’s voting record reflects that he does not support access to the comprehensive healthcare needs of women living with HIV.

Dear Senator:
My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [your state and city]. I’m [writing or calling] to express my opposition to the nomination Seema Verma to lead CMS. Medicaid program reforms as proposed under Verma’s leadership will prevent low income women living HIV from maintaining coverage and accessing life-saving treatment.

Sample tweet
@[Senator’s handle] We cannot afford to lose #healthcare! Please oppose@RepTomPrice for HHS & Seema Verma for CMS!

Honoring the Legacy of the Obama Administration on HIV

December 1, 2016: This #WorldAIDSDay, Positive Women’s Network – USA honors President Obama’s legacy in addressing the domestic HIV epidemic. Over the past eight years, the Obama Administration has advanced essential human rights protections for people living with HIV while ensuring meaningful involvement of the communities most impacted by HIV.

president_official_portrait_hiresIn 2010, President Obama formally finalized the repeal of the HIV travel ban, which barred entry into the U.S. of people living with HIV, allowing the International AIDS Conference to return to the U.S. following an absence of more than 2 decades. The move not only ended a policy of state-sanctioned discrimination, it conveyed an accurate public message that people living with HIV are not a public health threat, and that banning or isolating people living with HIV is not the way to fight the epidemic.

Candidate Barack Obama committed to develop and release a national plan to address the domestic HIV epidemic – a promise he fulfilled in July 2010 with the release of the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), a comprehensive approach to domestic HIV prevention, care, and social justice issues intersecting with human rights. In particular, we commend President Obama for the Administration’s focus within the NHAS on review and repeal of HIV criminalization laws, increased employment opportunities for people living with HIV, and, more recently, commitment to addressing HIV-related stigma through broad-based social action. The Affordable Care Act prohibited insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions (including HIV) and increased access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, including guaranteed coverage of contraception, preventive services for women’s health, and screening for domestic violence.

obama-wad-2013President Obama reactivated and redefined the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), which was first convened by President Clinton in 1995 but receded under President Bush, with few meetings or recommendations and some questionable appointments. Under President Obama, PACHA not only increased representation and meaningful participation of people living with HIV from impacted communities, including young people, people of color and of trans experience, but also maximized their expertise and contributions in developing the updated NHAS 2020 and the federal action plan.

We would additionally like to take this opportunity to honor and uplift the following individuals who have helped to vision, lead, and organize a coordinated and powerful domestic HIV response in the Obama Administration.

crowley_colorJeffrey Crowley

Jeff Crowley was the first Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in the Obama Administration as well as Senior Advisor on Disability Policy, serving in these capacities from February 2009-December 2011. Jeff led the development of our country’s first domestic National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) for the United States, which continues to guide the Administration’s efforts in this area. He also coordinated disability policy development for the Domestic Policy Council and worked on the policy team that spearheaded the development and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Since leaving the White House, Jeff has remained deeply involved in the community and instrumental as a policy expert and thought leader on HIV, disability issues, and access to healthcare for low-income communities. Thanks, Jeff, for your ongoing commitment to people living with HIV.

gregorio-millettGregorio Millett, MPH

Detailed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Greg Millett served as Senior Policy Advisor at ONAP, helping to write the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Greg’s extensive research on HIV incidence among black gay and bisexual men has helped to frame a national conversation on the importance of addressing HIV in this community.

jamesalbino-e1311377540427-150x150James Albino

James Albino served as Senior Program Manager in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy during Jeff Crowley’s tenure, leaving to head the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico. While at ONAP, James was instrumental in the creation of the Federal Interagency Workgroup on HIV, Violence Against Women, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. He also championed a domestic focus on the Latinx community as well as funding and HIV services for Puerto Rico.

lynnrose_0Lynn Rosenthal

As Senior Advisor to Vice President Biden, Lynn Rosenthal served as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and co-chaired the Federal Interagency Workgroup on HIV, Violence against Women, and Gender-related Health Disparities. Lynn’s commitment to hearing directly from impacted communities was clear to us, as was her background in leading direct service provision. As a keynote speaker at PWN-USA’s 2012 International AIDS Conference pre-conference for women living with HIV, Ms. Rosenthal stayed and spent time with our members for several hours to better understand their experiences. We value and appreciate this kind of commitment to the community.

grant-colfax-204x300Grant Colfax, MD

Grant Colfax served as Director of ONAP from March 2012 through December 2013, during which time he helped develop and launch the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, designed to increase access to HIV testing, care, and treatment rates.

 

 

douglas-brooksDouglas Brooks, MSW

Under Douglas Brooks’ leadership, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) was guided for the first time by a Black gay man openly living with HIV. He showed commitment to addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV on Southern states, gay and bisexual men, Black women, youth, and the transgender community, as well as to exploring and addressing the complexities of disclosure. We appreciate Douglas ensuring a focus on addressing stigma, as well, as employment, in the NHAS.

amy-lanksyAmy Lansky, PhD, MPH

Dr. Amy Lansky began serving as Director of ONAP in March 2016 upon Douglas Brooks’ departure and previously played a key role in the writing and release of NHAS 2020. Under Amy’s leadership, new developmental indicators for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy addressing stigma, and engagement in care and treatment for women of trans experience were released today. We are additionally appreciative of Amy’s presentation at PWN-USA’s Speak Up! Summit this September, demonstrating her commitment to advancing and investing in PLHIV leadership.

Trans Resilience & Resistance in Changing Times

November 18, 2016: Transgender Day of Remembrance—or Transgender Day of Resilience, to give full credit to the power, strength, creativity and determination our brothers and sisters of trans experience have shown in the face of relentless persecution—is observed November 20 of each year.

On this solemn but critically important day, and every day, Positive Women’s Network – USA commits to hold and uplift our transgender siblings and to do all within our power to protect them from the outpouring of hate, encircle them in love and give a platform to their voices.

This year, TDOR falls just 12 days after an election that threatens to roll back decades of progress for many communities—immigrants, LGBTQ, people of color and women—but which is particularly foreboding for the transgender community. As people of trans experience have increased their visibility in a struggle for equal rights and protection under the law, they have also faced hate crimes, including murders. Far too often, our trans family are further brutalized even in death, misgendered in the news. In fact, pervasive misgendering by police departments and media sources make it difficult to keep an accurate count of murders of transgender individuals, and can also impede investigation of incidents as hate crimes.

Separately from threats of physical violence, simply accessing health care, housing, education and employment opportunities can be like navigating a minefield for people of trans experience.

Please read the following statement from Jada Cardona, a Latinx woman of trans experience living in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was written prior to last week’s election.

Transgender People in the South Need Meaningful Change

by Jada Cardona, Executive Director of Transitions Louisiana

dsc_0013Being transgender in the Southern United States has its unique set of challenges. We can consider it positive movement when we haven’t lost any footing but unfortunately, there is not much forward progress. Despite last week’s election, we refuse to go backward.

We demand:

1. Affordable access to gender-affirming, non-discriminatory health care.

Since the adoption of the Medicaid expansion, we have been left out of the loop, as none of the states in the Deep South has expanded their Medicaid programs to be in line with ACA recommendations. More and more, young transgender women are resorting to underground silicone to have their bodies feminized. Hormones are super expensive and are not available to young transgender women. In fact, if you are living with HIV and are not adherent to the HIV meds, in some areas you risk being cut off of hormone treatment. There are no gender care clinics or after care clinics here in Louisiana. Getting gender reassignment is dangerous whenever you have to travel out of state (closest in Georgia) and have to recover in cheap motels instead of at home. Gender affirming care is still a dream on the horizon and not available in the South.

In a needs assessment survey of transgender Americans released by Positively Trans this spring, only 67% of Latinx respondents and 75% of African American respondents reported having health care coverage. Just 70% of respondents earning less than $12,000 a year had coverage. And 53-82% of respondents who reported having possibly or certainly been denied care because of their gender identity or HIV status had gone six months or longer without health care since their HIV diagnosis. Given the South’s failure to expand Medicaid, it is highly likely that the numbers in the South are even higher than these figures.

Further, 8% of respondents to the survey living in the South had never had an HIV viral load test. Viral suppression was also a full 10% lower among respondents in the South than elsewhere (71% compared with 81%).

These grim numbers highlight the urgent need for access to health care that is affirming for people of all genders and affordable.

2. Inclusion of gender identity in non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws and policies.

The Positively Trans needs assessment survey shows that 65% of respondents earned $23,000 or less annually, with a full 43% earning less than $12,000. Extreme poverty related to discrimination in education and employment settings forces some transgender people to resort to survival sex work or other survival strategies as they worry about where they will be sleeping and what are they going to eat.

This marginalization also increases risk of HIV acquisition for people of trans experience. Homelessness, lack of socially acceptable employment opportunities, and mental health challenges resulting from internalized oppression are killing our transgender sisters and brothers. The suicide rate is alarming and no one seems to be addressing the root causes of the problems.

Employment may grant an unprecedented level of self-efficacy necessary to build better lives. Non-discrimination laws must include protections for gender identity, and employers must be trained to comply with these laws both in the employment process and on the job.

Housing discrimination also remains an enormous barrier to stable employment and health care.. Homelessness can make it all but impossible to secure or hold down a job, as well as making it much more difficult for people of trans experience living with HIV to stay engaged in care. Non-discrimination laws and policies around housing must protect gender identity and must be enforced. Additionally, transgender individuals should have equal access to affordable housing opportunities.

Despite these challenges, I must point out that there is some growth that has been happening in our lives. For instance, we are more visible than we have ever been. People are now listening to our stories, and some organizations like PWN have embraced us. It is wonderful to know that there are some people who are committed to changing the political climate to one of inclusion and love. As we continue to change hearts and minds by sharing our truths, we demand that our neighbors, public and private institutions, and policymakers put down their prejudgments and recognize us as equal, so that we can finally get the respect that we need to thrive and supersede all that is against us in this world.

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I (Still) Believe that We Will Win.

November 15, 2016: Today, we grieve. Tomorrow, we fight.

Resistance in the face of terror is nothing new for our communities.

Our bodies are transgressive: Black, brown, and otherwise pigmented; queer; HIV-containing; border-crossing.

Our bodies and those of our ancestors have mostly migrated – some by choice but many by force – to a country that does not love us. 60 million people told us that last week. But our ancestors have been organizing in the face of hate, bigotry, terror, and loss for hundreds of years. We will not stop now.

Combatting racism, misogyny, xenophobia, transphobia, and patriarchy is an everyday reality for women living with HIV in the U.S. We are not strangers to living in fear or to having our rights violated. We know full well that justice has always been a fantasy for many of our members because Lady Justice’s blindfold is just for show; the heavy fingers of bigotry and resentment have weighed on the scales of justice throughout American history.

Regardless of the election’s outcome, we would have had to continue to fight vociferously for the safety, health, dignity and equality of ourselves and our loved ones. With a different outcome, our work likely would have been defined by an offensive strategy: pushing for progress and accountability to campaign promises. What transpired with last week’s election sets us back on the defensive, threatening decades of progress for women, people of color, those of us living with chronic health conditions and disabilities, queer and trans people—that is, just about everyone in this country who is not a white male.

For now, we commit to encircle and uplift those who will be increasingly targeted in the face of a Trump administration – for being brown, Black, queer, Muslim, immigrant, indigenous, non-English-speaking, womyn, and trans and gender non-conforming. Our next steps cannot be a reform agenda. Our tactics must be radical, revolutionary, and intersectional – building and centering leadership and strategic investment where it is most needed. Civil rights were not granted through an election; they were won in the streets.

Still, it is not enough to protest in the streets while we allow the institutions we work for and that purport to serve us to perpetuate the same oppressions we are fighting in our governmental institutions. We must actively work to combat racist, misogynistic and patriarchal practices within institutions and organizations, while we fight state-sanctioned violence.

And at the same time, we commit to radical self-care, because our preservation, health and dignity itself is revolutionary. As the great Audre Lorde said: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Elections have consequences, and we fear the worst from this one; but that only means we must fight harder, smarter and more relentlessly than ever before. In the coming weeks, months, and years, we must work intersectionally and in solidarity. We cannot work narrowly on one issue; more than ever, we need to fight for a broad progressive agenda, inclusive of ensuring that our very rights to healthcare, food, housing, land, movement, migration, and even to participate in democracy are protected. Our fates are intertwined. Only through fierce solidarity will we be strong enough to withstand the attacks on our communities and our very right to exist.

We will fight as if our life depends on it, because it does. In the meantime, love each other fiercely and hold each other tight.

See you in the streets and in the halls of Congress.

In sisterhood and solidarity ~
Positive Women’s Network – USA

Read PWN-USA Communications Director Jennie Smith-Camejo’s call to white people to engage in this moment:

“White friends, I understand your grief, and I know it’s real. I am living with it too. We are grieving together-mostly for the death of a rosy vision that many of the people around us, people we know and love, never had the privilege of believing in. Now it’s time for us to stand in that discomfort and feel it. Really feel it. And think about it. And talk about it. Not just to each other, but to everyone. To other white people specifically.” Read more here.

Rest in Power, Patricia Williams

patricia_williamsNovember 7, 2016: Positive Women’s Network – USA is devastated by the sudden loss of our sister, PWN-USA Philadelphia co-chair Patricia Williams, who passed away unexpectedly Friday, November 4.

Patricia, better known to many of her friends as Pattie, is mourned by her devoted mother, for whom she was named, three brothers, one sister, several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, as well as many friends and the community. (Please consider helping her family bury her by contributing whatever you can here.)

Patricia lived her life giving to the community, training and advocating for a better world, free from stigma and discrimination.

“I helped mentor and train her myself, and I can attest that she was eager to learn and eager to apply all she learned toward helping to shape a better world for all marginalized people,” says Waheedah Shabazz-El, PWN-USA Regional Organizing Director.

Diagnosed in 1992, Patricia lived proudly and openly with HIV as a way of eliminating HIV-related stigma. Patricia had extensive connections with the faith community and was a member of the Helping Hands Ministry in her church, helping to feed and clothe the homeless.

She was a graduate of several of Philadelphia FIGHT’s Project Teach Programs. She was also a graduate of a women’s trauma support group called “Still Rising.”

Patricia’s hard work as a peer educator for Philadelphia FIGHT was to educate communities living with and vulnerable to HIV. She provided motivation and encouraged others to build their own capacity to be a part of the fight to eradicate HIV in our lifetime. She was a specialist in teaching HIV prevention and about other sexually transmitted illnesses to disproportionately impacted communities.

Patricia had a keen focus on treatment of HIV education issues. She was also a steadfast member of a 12-step fellowship and was a regular speaker and presenter for We The People, a former community-based organization for people in recovery and with various other social needs. She was a strong advocate and a firm believer that you must fight for your human rights, “because no one is going to hand them to you on a silver platter.”

Patricia recently was a co-coordinator of a funded project by PWN-USA Philadelphia to address stigmatizing language in HIV and graduated herself and a dozen other community members as Stand Up to Stigma Champions. She led the PWN-USA Philly chapter–one of PWN-USA’s most successful regional chapters–with consistency and integrity since 2014.

She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Please consider contributing whatever you can to help her family give her the burial and tribute she deserves. Click here to contribute. Every little bit helps.

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Women Around the Nation Speak Up for the Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV

doa-soc-media-graphicOctober 24, 2016: With community events around the country happening from last week through the first week of November; a vibrant radio show on the theme hosted by PWN-USA Colorado member Pozitively Dee on Saturday; a Twitter chat scheduled for 2 PM ET today with special guest co-hosts from Christie’s Place, Futures Without Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Well Project and the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF (follow using the hashtags #EndVAWHIV and #pwnspeaks!); and at least two cities (Philadelphia and Houston) issuing proclamations for the Day of Action, our third annual Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV is shaping up to be another success.

Friday, we released a new factsheet examining criminalization as a perilous form of structural violence against women living with HIV. This factsheet contains invaluable information you will find useful in fighting criminalization and other forms of structural violence.

Be sure to read these powerful blog posts written for the Day of Action: a very raw, personal story of coping with violence from member Angel (trigger warning), and a beautiful tribute to the power of PWN and our members from Bruce Richman, executive director of Prevention Access Campaign. Also, be sure to check out the incredibly powerful blog posts from last year’s Day of Action.

And check out some photos of our members in action for the Day of Action below!

On Third Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV, PWN-USA Demands End to Criminalization & Other Forms of Structural Violence

doa-soc-media-graphic
OCTOBER 21: Women with HIV simultaneously live with the effects of trauma resulting from interpersonal, community, and institutional violence. Studies have shown that the lifelong and compounding effects of these different forms of violence may have consequences far deadlier than the virus itself. October 23, Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), along with dozens of endorsing organizations, will observe our third Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV, releasing a factsheet highlighting the many forms of violence impacting women living with HIV and their communities, with a special focus on criminalization, discriminatory law enforcement practices and other forms of

teresa-w-proclamation-for-doa
Teresa Sullivan, PWN-USA Philadelphia Senior Member, displays city proclamation

structural violence, and to offer solutions and ways that government, institutions and organizations can help prevent and mitigate violence and trauma. We will also be hosting a Twitter chat Monday, Oct. 24, at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT to look at the promise of trauma-informed care for women living with HIV as a means to healing the trauma that is far too often a barrier to retention in care (follow the hashtags #pwnspeaks and #EndVAWHIV). Community events are also being held in various cities, and members in Philadelphia and Houston secured proclamations from their cities declaring October 23 the Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV.

Laws criminalizing people living with HIV (PLHIV) disproportionately affect over-policed communities, including women of color (who make up 80% of the epidemic among women) and women of trans* experience. Harassment and brutality by police and law enforcement create hostile environments that perpetuate trauma in communities of color and other communities significantly impacted by HIV. Consequently, for the 2016 National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV, PWN-USA demands:
  • Repeal and reform of laws criminalizing HIV exposure, non-disclosure and transmission
  • An end to law enforcement practices that target communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, including people of trans and gender nonconforming experience (TGNC), sex workers, people who use drugs, immigrants, people who are unstably housed, people with mental illness, and communities of color
  • An end to stigmatizing and discriminatory interactions, methods of surveillance and brutalization of PLHIV and communities impacted by HIV at the hands of law enforcement
  • Elimination of barriers to safe, stable, and meaningful reintegration into the community for those returning home from jail and prison, those with criminal convictions, and the loved ones who support them.
PWN-USA called for the first Day of Action in 2014 in response to several high-profile murders of women following disclosure of their HIV status. Last year, community events were held in at least 18 cities, as well as a Twitter chat with 228 participants that reached 1.6 million people. 18 blog posts and statements were submitted by individuals and organizations in honor of the Day of Action. PWN-USA hopes this year’s day of action will continue to raise awareness, put forward solutions and mobilize advocates to push for meaningful change to end structural and institutional violence in the form of criminalization of our communities.
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SPEAK UP! 2016 Unites, Energizes & Mobilizes New & Seasoned Advocates

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Months of planning and preparation from PWN-USA’s Summit Planning Committee, Board, staff and presenters paid off last month, as 250 women living with HIV from 29 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada came together in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, for SPEAK UP! 2016 National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV.

The theme of this year’s Summit was Organizing for Power. With 6 plenaries and 7 breakout session blocks, the schedule was chock full of information and opportunities for learning, discussion and hands-on practice. Workshops and affinity sessions, the vast majority of which were presented or facilitated by women living with HIV, fell into the following five tracks: Policy & Advocacy; Effective Leadership Skills; Advancing HIV Research, Care & Prevention Agenda; Rights, Power & Justice; and Media & Strategic Communications. Sessions received overwhelmingly positive evaluations from participants. Plenary sessions, all with powerhouse speakers, tackled urgent topics ranging from federal HIV policy to trans-centered reproductive health care to intergenerational leadership. (Check out the full program here!)

But the busy schedule did not stop participants (and presenters) from making new friends and/or catching up with old ones, finding some inner peace and just letting loose and having fun. From yoga and meditation sessions on the beach in the mornings, to film screenings to crafting to karaoke at night, the Summit offered something for everyone. (Check out photos on Facebook!)

Don’t just take it from us. Here is what just a few of our participants have said about SPEAK UP! 2016:

“After much time spent learning with my sisters, I have to say being a princess is nothing without true solidarity in sisterhood. I had a wonderful time at the Summit 2016 with PWN and ALL my sisters…I am using my call to action challenge to use the information to reach others, and be the change I wish to see. Standing up and using my voice not only helps me; it helps those not fully ready or unaware of just how powerful our voice can be. When we speak up for ourselves, we empower others to do the same. I am now fully aware of what I need to do to move forward. I am prepared to speak up and ask those tough questions. I will not back down; instead, I will call on the power of my sisters. Together, we will make the difference and we will be heard…I am so touched with love, I forgot I had any problems. I only feel love, refreshed, joy, inner peace and hope for a restoration from those who tried to take me down. I am just where I need to be right now…I will see you all on the conference calls , webinars and in person at the next event.” – Angel S., Florida

“I am so glad I came! This is my first time coming and I love it. I met a lot of women and heard their stories. I can’t wait for the next one. When I get back to New York, I will pass on the information to other women.” – M. Hunt, New York

“I am so proud to be a part of the Summit. I have met some strong, powerful women, and I’m learning a lot to take back to Houston.” – Tana Pradia, PWN-USA Greater Houston Area

“They told us we will not live past 10 years. But here we are. PWN Summit. We are still here. Speak Up: gathering of powerful women. We are the experts.” – Tammy Kinney, PWN-USA Georgia

“This year the Summit was amazing! Louisiana ladies came out in force. In 2014 we had 8 women; this year we brought 12, and we are planning on 20 for the next Summit.” – Meta Smith-Davis, PWN-USA Louisiana

Were you at SPEAK UP! 2016? Would you like to share your experience with others? Submit a blog post for our #PWNspeaks blog! Click here to get started!

Thank you so much to our Summit Planning Committee, our Board of Directors, our sponsors, our fabulous presenters and moderators, and everyone who participated in SPEAK UP! 2016 for your crucial contributions in making the Summit a success.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this beautiful, powerful video produced by Pozitively Dee of Colorado during and after the Summit:

 

250 Women from 29 States, DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico & Canada SPEAK UP!

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Regional Organizing Institute, Tuesday, September 27

September 28, 2016: After many months and countless hours of planning, organizing and collaborating on a common vision by our Summit Planning Committee of over 20 women living with HIV, SPEAK UP! 2016–the only national leadership summit for women living with HIV–is finally here!

The Summit kicked off Tuesday with three special Institutes: one for leaders of PWN-USA’s eleven official affiliated regional chapters; one for women of trans* experience, led by Positively Trans; and one for young women living with HIV. The full-day institutes gave participants an opportunity to connect, prioritize issues and strategize around how to elevate those issues and reach their goals.

Tuesday evening, the full Summit opened with the plenary State of the Movement featuring 5 fierce panelists: Khafre Abif, Cecilia Chung, Grissel Granados, Vanessa Johnson and Andy Spieldenner, who discussed what the HIV movement is today, what is working, what is not, what needs to change and how intersectional issues affect people living with and vulnerable to HIV. The plenary was followed by a special screening of the documentary co-directed by and featuring Grissel Granados, We’re Still Here, following young people who were born with HIV and the unique challenges they face.

Wednesday morning started with an all-star panel discussing federal policy around HIV, women’s health, health care access and reproductive rights, featuring Dr. Amy Lansky, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy; Marty Bond, Senior Public Health Advisor for the Office on Women’s Health; Bill McColl, Esq., Director of Health Policy for AIDS United; and Monica Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong. And much, much more is still in store as SPEAK UP! 2016 continues!

To keep up with the latest, follow the hashtag #pwnspeaks on Twitter (and follow us @uspwn), and check our Facebook page for updates–and of course our Facebook photo album!

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Young Women’s Institute, Tuesday, September 27
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Institute for Women of Trans Experience, Tuesday, September 27

PWN-USA Gets Ready to SPEAK UP!

PrintSeptember 19, 2016 – It’s hard to believe, but we’re only about a week away from SPEAK UP! 2016 National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV. We’d like to thank our dedicated Summit Planning Committee for their many hours of time and energy spent planning this Summit to be the best yet!

We look forward to welcoming over 250 women living with HIV to Fort Walton Beach next week. Some are seasoned advocates who have long been involved with PWN-USA and who attended SPEAK UP! 2014; for others, this may be the first conference ever, and an introduction to advocacy. We welcome both and everyone in between, regardless of your experience with advocacy.

To help orient participants to the Summit, we have scheduled two special orientation webinars for registered participants for this week! Click on a day/time below to register for that webinar. If you cannot participate in either webinar, a recording will be available on our website by the end of the week.

Tuesday, September 20, 6 PM EDT/5 PM CDT/4 PM MDT/3 PM PDT

Thursday, September 22, 12 PM EDT/11 AM CDT/10 AM MDT/9 AM PDT

cover-art-final-2We also have the complete program available right here on our website now! Check it out here.

We have put together some travel tips for you as well! Questions about what you should bring? What your registration fee does and doesn’t cover? Find answers here.

We would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and expectations as you get ready for the Summit and throughout the Summit! Write a blog for us! Get started here.

We look forward to seeing you next week!

 

 

PWN-USA Seeks Experienced Facilitators for Butterfly Rising Program

 

September 8, 2016 – We are seeking experienced facilitators and trainers in the San Francisco Bay Area who want to become certified on Butterfly Rising, a trauma-informed peer leadership development curriculum for women living with HIV, including women of trans experience. This curriculum was created with the understanding that being able to understand the impact of and heal from past trauma (including child and adult physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; neglect; loss; community violence; structural violence; etc.) is empowering and key to developing one’s leadership potential. This is a paid opportunity. See complete packet for more information on compensation and requirements.

By the end of the training, participants will:

  1. Increase knowledge and understanding of trauma and its impact on individuals, families, and health-related behaviors.
  2. Learn to competently deliver the first two days (six modules) of a trauma-informed leadership intervention course to trauma- experienced women living with HIV affiliated with UCSF’s Women’s HIV Program.

 APPLICATION PROCESS

 Submit the following three items:

  1. A 1-2 page cover letter telling us about yourself, why you are interested in working with women living with HIV, what your experience is with facilitation and training, and why you are a good fit for this position.
  2. A resume or curriculum vitae
  3. TOT Application form on page 4 of packet

All parts of the application should be submitted via email to naina.khanna.work@gmail.com with the subject line TOT Application no later than October 1, 2016.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applicants who submit complete applications and meet all requirements will be contacted for interviews.

No phone calls please.

Download the application packet here.

SPEAK UP! 2016 – Registration Closed

August 2: Are YOU ready to speak up? SPEAK UP! 2016, the ONLY national leadership summit created by and for women living with HIV, is happening next month in Fort Walton Beach, Florida–and everyone is talking about it!

 

Registration is now closed, as we have reached capacity. If you would like to be added to our waitlist, please email your contact info (name, location, phone number and email) to pwnsummit@gmail.com.

For more information about the Summit, click here.
Registered for the Summit but have not submitted our questionnaire with important participant information yet? Click here.
Attending the Summit and have questions? We have answers. Check here.
Want to support the leadership of women living with HIV by sponsoring the Summit? We are still working to meet our fundraising goal! Learn more here.

Catch PWN-USA at AIDS 2016!

July 15, 2016: Members and staff of Positive Women’s Network – USA are representing US women living with HIV at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa all week! Whether you are in Durban or back home, you can follow us on Twitter and add your two cents by using the hashtags #PWNspeaks and #AIDS2016! 

THROUGHOUT AIDS 2016

Stop by the Common Threads exhibit booth in the Global Village – booth 418 to purchase handmade jewelry by US women living with HIV. 

The amazing Venita Ray, PWN-USA Board member is serving as a rapporteur for AIDS2016. Don’t miss her on Friday’s closing plenary! 

Follow us at #pwnspeaks #AIDS2016, WhatsApp us, or tweet us: @uspwn for real-time updates.

Here is where you will find us in Durban


bb2016textlogo400pxSUNDAY JULY 17

Beyond Blame pre-conference

9 AM – 5:30 PM
Blue Waters Hotel, 175 Snell Parade, Marine Parade, Durban

Register at Eventbrite

Beyond Blame @AIDS2016: Challenging HIV Criminalisation is a one day pre-conference for activists, advocates, healthcare professionals, lawyers, policymakers, and anyone else interested in working to end HIV criminalization. The meeting is being convened by HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE – comprising ARASACanadian HIV/AIDS Legal NetworkGNP+HIV Justice NetworkICWSero and PWN-USA – with local partner AIDS Legal Network, and in collaboration with UNAIDS and.UNDP. Keynote speaker: Justice Edwin Cameron of the South African Constitutional Court.

Attendance at the event is free of charge but will require pre-registration.

Learn more here

Pre-Conference Plenary: No More Lip Service: Trans Access, Equity and Rights, Now! Sunday July 17,8:30-6:00pm ICC Session Room 7

Ford Foundation event: Challenging HIV Criminalisation Globally

Sunday July 17, 8:30-2:00pm, ICC Durban. PWN-USA HIV-Reproductive Justice Legal Fellow Arneta Rogers will speak at this invitation-only event

unnamedNothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS Film Screening

Sunday, July 17, 6:30 PM
Freedom Cafe, 43 St. Mary’s Ave., Durban

From New York to Nigeria, from Burundi to the American South, women on two continents have been at the forefront of the global AIDS movement for over 30 years. Unflinching in their fight for a place at the table, women have shaped grassroots groups like ACT UP in the US and played a vital role in HIV prevention and the treatment access movement throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Harriet Hirshorn’s documentary, Nothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS, tells the story of these unsung heroes through archival footage and interviews with activists, scientists, and scholars in the US and Africa. The film explores the unaddressed dynamics that keep women around the world at risk for HIV, while giving voice to the remarkable women who have solutions for ending this decades-old pandemic. The film also features PWN-USA member leaders! We hope you’ll join us for a screening of this inspiring film, followed by a discussion with director Harriet Hirshorn and guests.

RSVP here.

TUESDAY JULY 19

Beyond Blame: A Feminist Dialogue on Criminalisation of HIV Transmission, Exposure and Non-disclosure Leadership Workshop

Session Room 9
Tuesday, July 19, 2:30 – 5:00 PM

The law is a critical tool for creating an enabling environment for effective responses to HIV and to provide access to justice for those affected by HIV. This workshop examines the range of laws criminalizing exposure, transmission and/or non-disclosure, using feminist analysis to explore the role of power and inequality in their application.
Moderator: Michaela Clayton, Namibia
Co-Facilitator: Naina Khanna, United States
Co-Facilitator: Jacinta Nyachae, Kenya
Co-Facilitator: Cécile Kazatchkine, Canada

Learn more here.

WEDNESDAY JULY 20

RWP poster IAC eposterPoster session: Securing the Future of Women-Centered Care, a report by Positive Women’s Network – USA

Wednesday, July 2012:30-2:30 PM
Poster Exhibition Area

Check out the findings of a community-based participatory research project, led by 14 women living with HIV on what services WLHIV need to stay engaged in care–on an  8-foot poster!

THURSDAY JULY 21

were still hereWe’re Still Here Film Screening

Global Village Film Screening Room
Thursday, July 212:10-3:05 PM

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the unique experiences of people born with HIV have been siloed in the world of pediatric HIV care. Their stories often told by the people who watched them grow up. As this generation enters adulthood, it is more important than ever for those born with HIV to speak for themselves and to insert their stories into the history of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it is important for people born with HIV in different parts of the world to share their stories with each other and connect across borders. The film follows director and PWN-USA board member Grissel Granados as she embarks on her own journey to seek out other people who were born with HIV and create community where it had out existed before.

 

Grieving Orlando

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We are heartbroken by the recent tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida which killed 49 people, the majority of whom were Latinx and other LGBTQ people of color.

As women living with and affected by HIV, many of us have been supported, mentored, and loved by the LGBTQ community when nobody else understood what we were going through. Our members include queer people, people of trans experience, lesbian and bisexual people, people of color, Latinx people, Black people, people of Muslim faith, people of immigrant experience, and people who are living with mental illness. The sense of shock, loss and despair is visceral and reverberates through our hearts and spirits.

We mourn for those who lost their lives seeking safety to celebrate their truths. We stand in solidarity with their loved ones and with all our community members who are experiencing the collateral harm of a lost sense of safety, held space and integrity in the wake of this unfathomable act of violence. We recognize that state-sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies as well as queer bodies takes many forms, including a spate of recent legislation criminalizing LGBTQ communities, and that discrimination, stigma, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are not just uncomfortable experiences – they are literally killing people.

June marks Pride month throughout the country— a hard-won celebration of the diversity, vibrancy and resilience of the LGTBQ community. In this historically jubilant time to seek comfort in living out the full expression of our identities, we grieve.  Yet, while we mourn and search for ways to heal, we also practice resistance.

We call for an increased commitment to actively fight against racism, homophobia and transphobia and the perpetual targeting of black and brown queer bodies by state-sanctioned and interpersonal attacks of violence. We disavow rhetorical responses to this tragedy that seek to divide us and that attempt to perpetuate further injustice and harm. Suggestions that entire religious communities, people with mental illness, people of color, or immigrants should be increasingly targeted, surveilled, policed or banned from this country – which was built on the backs of people of color — are unacceptable.

We must stand up and speak up for the right of every person to live openly as who they are without sacrificing safety, security, or dignity, challenging those who would rather demonize entire groups of human beings than address the deeper systemic problems that breed hate and violence. And even as we do that, we must thrive, celebrate our own courageous lives and the lives of those lost, and continue to love and support one another as we heal.

PWN-USA Colorado Leads Activist Group in Winning Overhaul of Discriminatory, Outdated Laws

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Activists with Senator Steadman, Rep. Daneya Esgar and Governor Hickenlooper at the bill signing Monday, June 6, 2016. Photo credit: Thomas Bogdan 

** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **

Contact:  Barb Cardell, CO Mod Squad Co-Chair, Barb@barbcardell.com 303-946-2529

June 8, 2016 – Colorado brought decades-old criminal laws including sentence enhancement for  knowledge of HIV–used disproportionately to target youth, people of color, transgender women and sex workers–into line with current science, when Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 146 into law Monday, June 6. The effort to change the old criminal statutes– relics of ‘80s and ‘90s “AIDS panic” before HIV transmission was well-understood and before antiretroviral treatment dramatically improved the lives of people living with HIV, offering breakthrough advances in prevention–was led by a coalition of advocates who call themselves the “Colorado Mod Squad.” SB 146 was sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo).

Before the change in law, sex work or solicitation of a sex worker with knowledge of HIV diagnosis was a felony—even if condoms were used and the defendant had an undetectable viral load (HIV cannot be transmitted when medication fully suppresses the virus). Penetrative sexual assault with knowledge of HIV diagnosis could mean that the sentence for the assault could be tripled—even in cases with no risk of HIV transmission. SB 146 eliminated felony offenses involving sex work and modernized much of the statutory language concerning sexually transmitted infections in the health code. While the sentencing enhancement for sexual assault by a person living with HIV remains in the criminal code, the new law reduces the enhancement to the maximum sentence and requires the prosecution to prove transmission first.

Colorado laws reflected a fear-based use of the criminal justice system to punish people for knowing their HIV status, a direct contradiction to CDC efforts to reduce HIV transmission by encouraging testing and treatment. Colorado was not unique: similar laws exist in over 30 states in the country, commonly known as HIV criminalization laws. “HIV criminalization affects all of us by shifting the burden of proof only onto the person living with HIV,” declared Lisa Cohen, chair of Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA). “The only real protection is not to know your HIV status. This contradicts HIV prevention efforts and offers a terrible public health policy solution.”

“It’s unconscionable that we have permitted fear and bad science to dominate our laws covering sexual health,” remarked Senator Steadman, “and it’s past time that we had informed and respectful legislation in this area. Criminal law is an ineffective tool in our public health response.”

The legislation—supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health–took four years of organizing, soliciting input from stakeholders and strategic negotiations. “We had education sessions for ourselves and the broader community,” said John Tenorio, a Canyon City-based HIV activist and Mod Squad member, of the input-gathering process. “We’d listen to people’s concerns. Really listen. Because that’s what community is about – building consensus and addressing everyone’s concerns at the table.”

Advocates of the Mod Squad made sure existing protections for people living with HIV, unique to Colorado, including access to anonymous HIV testing, confidentiality of public health records and protections during the public health order process, were retained in the bill, and expanded many of them to all mandated reporting for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“When we were asked to give up protecting sex workers in our modernizing language n, we refused,” Kari Hartel, Denver-based HIV activist and co-chair of Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) Colorado, explained. “We knew this bill could be rendered useless if we let it die that way. We would be sacrificing our integrity if we let people say that sex workers and those accused of sex work didn’t deserve the same protection, or that modernizing our current statutes was just too challenging to pass right now.” Sex workers are particularly vulnerable under HIV criminalization laws, which are often used to enhance sentencing for lesser charges.

The Colorado Mod Squad, led by PWN-USA Colorado, will continue to organize to ensure the new law is implemented correctly and fairly throughout the state. “Getting this bill signed into law is a major achievement, but the real work for community groups starts now –in identifying other areas that need to be worked on,” Jeff Thormodsgaard of Public Policy Group , a key strategist for SB 146, pointed out.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs HIV-Positive Organ Donation Bill

May 27, 2016–Sacramento: California Governor Jerry Brown today signed a bill that allows organ transplants between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients. Senate Bill (SB) 1408 was authored by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA. The four organizations are part of the coalition Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), itself a supporter of the bill. SB 1408 brings state law in line with federal law and passed both the Assembly and Senate unanimously earlier in the day.

“These lifesaving surgeries have been proven safe and are now allowable under federal law,” said Allen. “There is no reason for state law to maintain an antiquated prohibition on organ donation by HIV-positive persons. By expanding the pool of organ donors, we will have shortened the time for all persons on the organ donor waiting lists, and saved lives in the process.”

The number of individuals in need of organ transplants far exceeds the availability of healthy organs. Yet California law criminalizes transplantation of organs and tissue from an HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient. Allowing the donation HIV-positive organs and tissue will save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, and shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants.

Read the full press release from Equality California here.

PWN-USA Colorado Leads Successful Effort to Repeal HIV Criminalization Statutes

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Photo credit: Victoria Law; from thebody.com

May 13, 2016: A Colorado team known as the “CO Mod Squad,” led by PWN-USA Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health, saw over four years of hard work and persistent advocacy pay off Wednesday, May 11, when Senate Bill 16-146, repealing two HIV criminalization statutes and significantly reforming the third, passed both the senate and the house. It now only awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

“Today we changed the world,” said Barb Cardell, PWN-USA Board Chair, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado and a presenter at the HIV Is Not a Crime II Training Academy. “With people living with HIV leading the way and our allies supporting us, we were able to do something many thought we couldn’t and we had only dreamed of until now.”

The bill, introduced into the state senate in March by Sen. Pat Steadman (one of the keynote speakers at HIV Is Not a Crime II) and into the house by Rep. Daneya Esgar, updates statutes related to HIV to include all STIs, in accordance with current science and medical advances, and removes the HIV criminalization language in the statute.

“In 2014, at the first HIV Is Not a Crime conference in Grinnell, someone asked which state was going to be the next to reform their HIV criminalization laws,” added Kari Hartel, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado. “I answered with confidence that it was going to be Colorado! It has been a long road, and this bill isn’t perfect. But if this process has taught us anything, it’s that our advocacy efforts CAN and DO make a difference!”

Read more about this historic victory in this fantastic article by Victoria Law for TheBody.com.