Women with HIV Demand a Minimum Standard of Care, Bold New Initiatives to Ensure High-Quality Services for Black Women and Transgender Women of Color
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Contact: Olivia Ford, email@example.com / 347.553.5174
April 13, 2015 – Washington, DC – The next National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) must include factors vital to the survival and well-being of women living with HIV, according to Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), a national membership organization representing women living with HIV.
Today, PWN-USA released a set of recommendations for consideration by the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) as it develops the second iteration of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Among the recommendations is a demand for a minimum national standard of care for people living with HIV, which would include clinical and non-clinical quality of life guidelines. PWN-USA also strongly recommends developing a national initiative focused on access and quality of care for Black women living with HIV, and taking action to ensure transgender women’s access to culturally relevant prevention and services.
“As people with HIV are living longer, and are dependent on diverse sources of coverage for care and services, it is past time to define a national standard of high-quality care for people with HIV,” says Sharon DeCuir, a Baton Rouge-based service provider who serves as Vice Chair of the Board of PWN-USA. “This particularly applies in the South, where the impact of HIV is heaviest and most states have failed to expand Medicaid.”
Because of high rates of unmet need for sexual and reproductive healthcare services among women with HIV, the standards must include comprehensive, culturally competent, and non-stigmatizing sexual and reproductive healthcare for women of all ages, including transgender women, say leaders of PWN-USA. “The gender-sensitive, wide-ranging services provided in the Ryan White Part D program should serve as a standard for care for all women with HIV,” says Kari Hartel, a co-chair of PWN-USA’s Colorado chapter and a Part D service provider. In addition, advocates point to the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and intimate partner violence experienced by people with HIV, and recommend that trauma-informed care practices be fully incorporated into the standards.
The HIV epidemic among women has disproportionately impacted Black women and other women of color. CDC surveillance data reveal that Black women have significantly higher death rates than White women (16.7 to 1), and that the majority of transgender women diagnosed with HIV are women of color. A 2009 report by the National Institutes of Health found that a third of US transgender women are living with HIV, indicating that focused attention to these communities ought to be a mandate.
“Women with HIV occupy spaces where the impacts of racism, patriarchy, poverty, transphobia, trauma, and HIV intersect, and profoundly impact the quality of their lives,” says Naina Khanna, Executive Director of PWN-USA. “Services for women must proactively address these conditions.”
The recommendations also include a demand for meaningful inclusion of people with HIV in decision-making processes, and prioritizing research, development, and dissemination of women-controlled HIV prevention methods.
“The priorities of the next National HIV/AIDS Strategy must be shaped by those most impacted by the shifts in policy direction the strategy will produce,” says Barb Cardell, Board Chair of PWN-USA and a steering committee member of the US People Living with HIV Caucus. “We are proud that these recommendations are the product of a consultative process involving a diverse group of women living with HIV throughout the US.”