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

May_Day_lorez_ENL_3-663x1024
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”

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.

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”

#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”

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

 

 

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.

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.

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.