National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV: October 23, 2016

#EndVAWHIV   #pwnspeaks   #DVAM


When: October 23, 2016
Where: Everywhere
How: Sign on as an endorser; organize or attend an in-person or online event; write a statement, blog or press release; post on social media!
Who: Led by women living with HIV and those who love and support us
Why: Women living with HIV face alarming rates of interpersonal, community, structural and historical violence.

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 deadlier than the virus itself.

This National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV, join us in advocating to end criminalization of our communities as a perilous form of violence against people living with HIV (PLHIV).


  1. We demand the repeal and reform of state HIV exposure, non-disclosure, and transmission laws.
  • Laws that criminalize people living with HIV disproportionately impact women, especially women of color and women of trans experience, placing them at greater risk of violence from both partners and law enforcement:
    • 80% of US women diagnosed with HIV are Black or Latinx,[1] communities disproportionately targeted by police.
    • While women may face violence from partners or family members if they disclose their HIV status,[2] they risk arrest and prosecution if they do not disclose.[3]
    • Arrests and convictions related to HIV fall most heavily on the communities that already face disproportionate levels of policing and incarceration. For example, in California, 95% of HIV-related contact with the criminal justice system from 1988-2014 involved people engaging or suspected of engaging in sex work. Black women made up 21% of the people who had contact with the criminal justice system related to HIV-positive status in California, even though they only make up 4% of the population of those diagnosed with HIV in the state.[4]
  1. We demand that policymakers address laws and 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.
  • Studies show that police targeting of people perceived to be doing sex work contribute to an increased risk of HIV acquisition by limiting ability of sex workers to carry condoms without harassment by law enforcement and to negotiate safer sex practices with their partners.[5]
  • In a 2011 survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people across the country, 22% of those who had interacted with police reported harassment by police, with much higher rates reported by people of color. 6% report being physically assaulted by a police officer, and 46% reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.[6]
  • The criminalization of homelessness, through bans on essential activities such as sleeping, eating, and sitting in public, exposes homeless people to police harassment, arrest, and unwarranted searches and seizures in cities across the country.[7] At least half of all people living with HIV/AIDS experience homelessness or housing instability.[8]
  1. Separately from laws, we demand 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.
  • Interacting with the police itself is a source of violence and trauma for many women living with HIV and LGBT people, especially women of color and TGNC people, and police hostility may be a barrier to WLHIV and TGNC people accessing the support they need when they experience interpersonal violence:
    • A national survey in 2012 found that over half of the people living with HIV who reported an instance of intimate partner violence (IPV) to the police did not have their complaints fully addressed, while 73% of people living with HIV who reported sexual assault to the police did not have their complaints fully addressed.[9]
    • Many WLHIV, TGNC people, and people who are or are perceived to be sex workers report facing arrest themselves for assault or domestic violence rather than their abusers.[10]
    • Some sex workers have experienced police officers demanding unprotected sex in exchange for not arresting them, putting them at risk for HIV and other STIs.[11]
  1. We demand that policymakers address the 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.
  • Policing and incarceration have significant economic, social, and health consequences for families — which last long after someone is released from prison or jail — and women, immigrants, and communities of color bear the brunt of these burdens:
    • A 2014 survey of formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones found that 79% of respondents were ineligible or denied housing because of their own or a loved one’s conviction history; 79% of formerly incarcerated women were unable to afford housing after release; 3 of 4 people said finding employment after release was difficult or nearly impossible; 67% were still unemployed or underemployed five years after release; 3 of 5 formerly incarcerated participants were unable to afford to return to school; and 1 in 4 were denied or barred from educational loans because of their conviction.[12]
    • For immigrants, having contact with the legal system based on their HIV status can trigger deportation proceedings.[13]

Read the complete new factsheet here!

What you can do right now to support the Day of Action:

1. Sign on as an organization or individual to endorse the Day of Action and the positions stated above.

2. Plan an in-person or online event on or around October 23, 2016. (Don’t forget to send the details to Jennie at so that we can share your event on our calendar and on social media!)

Folks are organizing community events, teach-ins, direct actions, Twitter chats, and more! Let us know what you’re planning. Contact Jennie at with the following info about your event:

  • Your name or organization
  • Location, date, and time of the event
  • Event description
  • Any relevant links

3. Join us online for a Twitter chat Monday, Oct. 24, at 2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT with special co-hosts National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), Futures Without Violence, Christie’s Place, the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF and The Well Project, about the need for trauma-informed care for women living with HIV and how these practices can be implemented immediately. Follow and use the hashtags #pwnspeaks and #EndVAWHIV to participate! See our Social Media Toolkit.

3.  Write a blog (as an individual), or plan a statement or press release from your organization, talking about why you support the Day of Action and/or sharing your experiences and perspectives. See our factsheet and the talking points above as reference. Submit your blog or statement through our website here to and we’ll run it or link to it.

4. Promote the Day of Action to get others to sign on! Check out our Social Media Toolkit with sample promo tweets here and commit change your social media profile pic on or before October 23 to our Day of Action image!

5. Make a donation to support and sustain PWN-USA’s work to advance trauma-informed care in HIV programs and to build leadership among women living with HIV.

Last year, at least 18 cities across the U.S. hosted in-person events for the Day of Action; individuals and organizations submitted thoughtful blog posts featuring both personal experiences and organizational considerations; we hosted a Twitter chat with our partners at The Well Project, National Network to End Domestic Violence and SisterLove Inc. that reached thousands; organizations across the country posted statements in observance of the Day of Action; and all those efforts found some attention in the media.

Click here to view this webinar we presented for last year’s Day of Action, with lots of great information on the Day of Action chock full of ideas for ways to own it and promote it!


  • Download our factsheet or this great slide deck produced by PWN-USA Georgia Communications Rep Shyronn Jones to support your Day of Action activities, including any blogs, statements, or press releases you are working on.
  • Download the Day of Action image for use here.
  • Download our Social Media Toolkit here.

Endorsing Organizations:

Thank you to the following organizations, as well as the dozens of individuals, who have endorsed the 2016 Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV! Add your organization to this list by endorsing the Day of Action here.

AIDS Athens
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS United
Arkansas HIV Planning Group
Arkansas RAPPS
BABES Network – YWCA
Boulder Community Health
Cascade AIDS Project
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP)
Chicago Women’s AIDS Project
Christie’s Place
Colorado Health Network, Inc.
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
CORA- Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS
Counter Narrative Project
Desiree Alliance
Forward Together
Harm Reduction Coalition
HEMA Universal Life Community Services, Inc
HIV Disclosure Project
HIV Justice Network
HIV Modernization Movement – Indiana
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
iknowAwareness LLC
Legacy Community Health
Living in 3-D
Missouri HIV Justice Coalition
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
National Working Positive Coalition
Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL), Inc.
Positive Women Victoria
Positively Beautiful
Pozitively Dee on BlogTalk Radio
Prevention Access Campaign
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Project Inform
PWN-USA Georgia
Rad Care
RiseUpToHIV, Inc.
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
SisterSong: National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
Southern AIDS Coalition
The Well Project
Treatment Educat10n Network

[1] 30 for 30 Campaign. “Structural and Personal Violence: Connected Drivers of Women’s HIV Acquisition and Compromisers of Health Outcomes for Women Living with HIV.” August 2016.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Women.” February 2014.

[3] Center for HIV Law and Policy. “What HIV Criminalization Means to Women in the U.S.” 2011.

[4] Amira Hasenbush, Ayako Miyashita, & Bianca D.M. Wilson, The Williams Inst. Univ. of Cal. L.A. Sch. Of Law. “HIV Criminalization in California: Penal Implications for People Living with HIV/AIDS” December 2015.

[5] Open Society Foundations. “Criminalizing Condoms: How Policing Practices Put Sex Workers and HIV Services at Risk in Kenya, Namibia, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe.” July 2012.

[6] Jaime M. Grant et al. “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” 2011.

[7] The National Coalition for the Homeless & The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “A Dream Denied: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities.” January 2006.

[8] National AIDS Housing Coalition. “Breaking the Link Between Homelessness and HIV.” 2012.

[9] Lambda Legal. “Protected and Served?” 2014.

[10] INCITE! “Policing Sex Work.”

[11] Id.

[12] Saneta deVuono-powell et al., Ella Baker Center, Forward Together, Research Action Design. “Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families.” September 2015.

[13] Amira Hasenbush & Bianca D.M. Wilson, The Williams Inst. Univ. of Cal. L.A. Sch. Of Law. “HIV Criminalization Against Immigrants in California.” September 2016.