Advocates from 34 States & 4 Countries Convene at University of Alabama-Huntsville to Strategize Addressing Discriminatory HIV Laws at 2nd National HIV Is Not a Crime Training Acadmemy

**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 17**

Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo, jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org, 347-553-5174

Even as a bill repealing Colorado’s HIV criminalization laws awaits the governor’s pen, much work remains to be done to bring laws up to date with current science in at least 33 states.

Eleven states have laws on the books that can send people living with HIV to prison for behaviors (such as biting and spitting) that carry virtually no risk of transmitting HIV. Forty-four states have prosecuted people living with HIV for perceived exposure or transmission; most states permit prosecution even when no transmission has occurred, and actual risk is negligible.

In Texas, a man living with HIV is currently serving a 35-year sentence for spitting. In Idaho, Kerry Thomas is serving 30 years for allegedly not disclosing his HIV status to a partner – despite the fact that he took measures to prevent transmission, including using a condom and taking medications to maintain an undetectable viral load. Kerry Thomas’ accuser never acquired HIV. Yet his appeal was recently denied, demonstrating that current science continues not to matter to the courts.

“These laws make disclosure harder. Because we so fear the punishment, we just keep things bottled up inside,” says Monique Howell-Moree, who was prosecuted under a US military non-disclosure law and would have faced 8-12 years if convicted. “I didn’t know the best way to disclose … Had I had the support and knowledge that I have now back then, I would most definitely have done things differently.”

In her HIV/AIDS platform and in a recent meeting with activists, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for “reform[ing] outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws.” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has said the candidate is also “absolutely opposed” to these laws, according to the Washington Blade. The confluence of outdated laws, unjust prosecutions and profound disparities is bringing advocates and activists from 34 states and 4 countries together for the second national convening dedicated exclusively to strategizing to fight back in the name of human rights and public health.

WHAT: HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy
WHERE: University of Alabama, Huntsville
WHEN: May 17-20, 2016

The Training Academy is co-organized by SERO Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA, two national networks of people living with HIV. It comes on the heels of a major victory in Colorado, where through the dedicated efforts of a group known as the “CO Mod Squad” (“mod” refers to “modernization” of the law), led by Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) Colorado, a bill was passed last week that updates laws to take account of current science and eliminates HIV criminalization language.

“With people living with HIV leading the way and our allies supporting us, we were able to do something many thought we couldn’t,” said Barb Cardell, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado and one of the leaders of the successful efforts. “The law now focuses on proven methods of protecting public health — like education and counseling — while discarding the language of criminalization, which actually discourages testing, treatment and disclosure.”

“This law represents real progress for Coloradans, regardless of their HIV status,” she added. At the Training Academy this week, Cardell will share some highlights and lessons learned from the CO Mod Squad’s experience.

Keynote speakers at the Training Academy include Mary Fisher, who stunned the audience at the 1992 Republican National Convention with a speech about her experience as a woman living with HIV; Joel Goldman, longtime advocate and managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; and Colorado state senator Pat Steadman, the senate sponsor of the bill just passed repealing HIV criminalization in his state. Session topics will explore best practices for changing policy, and will consider the intersections of HIV criminalization with issues ranging from institutional racism to transphobia, criminalization of sex work, mental illness and substance use, and overpolicing of marginalized communities.

“The goals of the Training Academy go beyond giving advocates the tools and know-how they need to change policy, to deepening our collective understanding of the impact of these laws and why they are enforced the way they are,” said Naina Khanna, executive director of PWN-USA. “We hope participants will leave better prepared to effect change by thinking differently, forging new partnerships and ensuring communities most heavily impacted by criminalization are in leadership in this movement.”

Several spokespeople will be available to address questions from media. You may contact the individuals below directly or through Jennie Smith-Camejo (contact information above):

Sean Strub, Director for SERO Project. (646) 642-4915; sean.strub@seroproject.com

Naina Khanna, Executive Director for Positive Women’s Network – USA. (510) 681-1169; nkhanna@pwn-usa.org

Robert Suttle, Assistant Director for SERO Project and HIV criminalization survivor from Louisiana. http://seroproject.com/video/robert-suttle/ (646) 589-2346; Robert.suttle@seroproject.com

Monique Howell-Moree, HIV criminalization survivor from South Carolina. http://seroproject.com/video/monique-moree/ (843) 345-8433; moniquemoree@gmail.com

Arianna Lint, founder and CEO of Translatin@ Services and Ariann@ Center, transgender rights and HIV activist. (786) 600-1915; ariannau@translatinacoalition.org

Barb Cardell, PWN-USA Board Member, leader of CO Mod Squad coalition behind successful Colorado bill. (303) 946-2529; barb@barbcardell.com

Check the training academy’s website and social media for the latest developments on the event:

http://www.hivisnotacrime.com

http://www.facebook.com/HIVIsNotACrimeConference

http://www.twitter.com/HIVIsNotACrime

Follow the hashtag #HIVIsNotACrime

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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.

10 Days Until Huntsville! Speakers and Program Highlights Announced for the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy

HINAC countdown memes 44 statesMay 6, 2016: In just a little over a week, the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy will convene at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. There is still time to register to train alongside committed advocates building an intersectional movement to end HIV criminalization! The Training Academy will take place from May 17 – 20, 2016.

Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) and the SERO Project — two networks of people living with HIV — have joined forces to organize the Training Academy. We are thrilled to announce three exciting keynote speakers at the event:

  • HIV community icon Mary Fisher, who spoke about her experiences living with HIV at the Republican National Convention (RNC), back in 1992;
  • Longtime advocate Joel Goldman of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; and
  • Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman, who in March introduced a bill into the state senate that would effectively repeal or significantly amend the three HIV-specific criminal codes, remove sentence enhancements for knowledge of HIV status, and modernize STI statutes to include HIV.

See below for biographical information for our speakers, in addition to highlights from the event’s dynamic program!

The Training Academy will convene in the Deep South — the region most heavily affected by not only HIV, but many other symptoms of a history steeped in injustice and trauma.

Plenary session topics include:

  • What’s Working? Where Are We Struggling? Focus on State Strategies: Successes & Challenges
  • AntiBlackness & HIV Criminalization: Grounding Ourselves in Racial Justice 

Breakout workshop titles include:

  • Activists, Advocates and Lawyers: Collaborating to a Common Goal
  • Joining Forces: Mobilizing Feminists to Challenge Unjust Prosecutions
  • Building Youth Capacity to Effect Policy Change Through an Intergenerational Model

Evening events include:

  • Consent: HIV Non­Disclosure and Sexual Assault Law, Last Men Standing, and more (film screenings)
  • Advocacy, Action and Community Building Through Art
  • TIME IS NOT A LINE: (re)Considering our HIV Herstory for Collective Freedom

View the full program of exciting, thought-provoking, movement-building sessions here.

HIV is a human rights issue; criminalization of people living with HIV is a social justice issue. The Training Academy will unite and train advocates living with HIV and allies from across the country on strategies and best practices for repealing laws criminalizing people living with and vulnerable to HIV. The Training Academy will also center the voices of survivors of HIV-related criminal cases and prosecutions.

Come to Huntsville and learn strategies from advocates opposing these unjust laws!   

Keynote Speaker Bios

Mary Fisher

Mary Fisher Jose Picayo 3Author, artist, advocate, and social entrepreneur Mary Fisher is a global leader in the arena of social change through positive thought and action. A renaissance woman, Mary landed on every front page with her stunning keynote address speaking truth to power at the 1992 RNC, a speech since ranked among “the best 100 American speeches of the 20th Century” (Oxford University Press). Diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and with breast cancer in 2012, she retains an exuberant, eclectic style in her life, her words and her design. She has trained women worldwide to use her original concepts to find pride and dignity in work. Ms. Fisher will also offer a special workshop for women living with HIV at the Training Academy.

 

Joel Goldman

JGoldman_ETAF_Headshot-3812Joel Goldman is the Managing Director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).  In 1991, his career path was interrupted when he was diagnosed with HIV.  Told that he only had three years to live, he decided to make his infection a meaningful force in the lives of young people by raising their awareness of the reality of HIV/AIDS. Joel spent the next 14 years speaking to over a million students on more than 2,000 campuses, high schools, and faith-based youth programs. He sees his role at ETAF as helping reinvigorate the public’s conversation about HIV/AIDS and building on Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy as a leader and crusader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

State Senator Pat Steadman (SD 31)

S-Steadman, PatSenator Pat Steadman was selected to Colorado’s Legislature in 2009 to fill a senate vacancy, then elected to finish his term and re-elected in 2012 — all to serve his home District 31. He has used his passion and knowledge of the legislative system to advocate for civil rights — as he did during his active role in opposing Amendment 2 in 1992, which aimed to dismiss all legal protections for lesbians and gay men in Colorado. The citizen-initiated constitutional amendment was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court.

 

Questions? Please contact Tami Haught, SERO Organizer and Training Coordinator, at: tami.haught@SEROproject.com.

Stay tuned to the training academy’s website and social media for more information as the event approaches.

www.HIVIsNotaCrime.com
Twitter: @HIVIsNotaCrime
Facebook: /HIVIsNotaCrimeConference
#HIVIsNotaCrime

 

Five Weeks Until Huntsville! Register NOW for the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy

HIV_not_a_crime II smallApril 11, 2016: The HIV is Not a Crime II Training Academy will be held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, May 17 – 20, 2016 – you can still register to be part of this transformative advocacy training experience!

Join co-organizers PositiveWomen’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) and the SEROProject — two networks of people living with HIV – and help build a diverse, intersectional movement against HIV criminalization in the South and across the United States.

Plenary and session topics will include:

  • ·      Intersections of race, gender and sexuality in HIV criminalization
  • ·      Centering the rights of sex workers and other over-criminalized groups
  • ·      Updates and tips from active state-based campaigns against HIV criminalization
  • ·      Supporting leadership of people living with HIV in the movement to end HIV criminalization

HIV is a human rights issue; criminalization of people living with HIV is a social justice issue. The Training Academy will unite and train advocates living with HIV and allies from across the country on strategies and best practices for repealing laws criminalizing people living with and vulnerable to HIV.

Heinous violations of the rights of people living with HIV like the recent, active case of Corey Rangel in Michigan are made possible by a landscape in which laws are on the books making it a crime to live with a health condition. Come to Huntsville and learnstrategies from advocates opposing these unjust laws!

The training academy will convene in the Deep South — the region most heavily affected by not only HIV, but many other symptoms of a history steeped in injustice and trauma.

Register for HIV Is Not a Crime II TODAY! 

There’s also still time for your organization to become a sponsor of the training academy, and/or send a participant to this important event. For more information, please contact Sean Strub, SERO Project, at sean.strub@SEROproject.com; or Naina Khanna, PWN-USA, at nkhanna@pwn-usa.org.

Questions? Please contact Tami Haught, SERO Organizer and Training Coordinator, at: tami.haught@SEROproject.com.

Stay tuned to the training academy’s website and social media for more information as the event approaches.

www.HIVIsNotaCrime.com
Twitter: @HIVIsNotaCrime
Facebook: /HIVIsNotaCrimeConference
#HIVIsNotaCrime

HINAC countdown memes 1 spitting

Present a Session at the PWN-USA SPEAK UP! Summit

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March 31, 2016: Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) is thrilled to announce our call for session proposals for SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV 2016.

We invite proposals for various types of sessions (affinity groups, discussion group, or workshop) for SPEAK UP! Positive Women’s Network – USA’s 2016 National Leadership Summit.

SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV will be held September 27-30, 2016, in Fort Walton Beach, FL. This Summit is open only to women with HIV, including transgender women with HIV.

In September 2014, PWN-USA held our first-ever National Leadership Summit to build advocacy skills and leadership capacity among over 200 women living with HIV from 26 states, the US Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Participants from the 2014 Summit have gone on to do amazing work in their communities, fighting stigma, advocating for fair policies and supporting people living with HIV in their regions. The 2016 Summit will be designed for both first time participants and 2014 alumni as emerging and seasoned advocates to deepen advocacy and collective organizing strategies during a key election cycle.

You can read about the magic that happened at our 2014 Summit here.

The theme for SPEAK UP! 2016 is: Organizing for Collective Power.

We’re serious about building power. In this critical election year, we remain committed to our vision: a world where all people with HIV live free of stigma and discrimination. We work to achieve this by preparing and involving women living with HIV, in all our diversity, including gender identity and sexual expression, to be meaningfully involved at the tables where decisions are made about our lives, our communities, and our rights. We actively work at the intersections of race, class, gender, immigrant status, sexual orientation and more.

If you are interested in contributing to this growing and vibrant community, we encourage you to submit an abstract to conduct a session (workshop or other activity at the Summit). As a session leader you will ensure that information and skill-building activities are provided in line with PWN-USA values, priorities, and goals for the Summit.

There will be 5 core tracks at the Summit:

1) Rights, Power and Justice

2) Building Leadership Skills

3) Policy and Advocacy

4) Media & Strategic Communications and

5) Advancing the HIV Research, Care, and Prevention Agenda

Final decisions on session proposals will be made with an eye towards meaningful involvement of women with HIV and communities of color as presenters. In particular, we seek strong representation of women living with HIV, people of color, trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and young people as presenters. We welcome abstract submissions from well-intentioned allies and encourage allies to submit in collaboration with women living with HIV.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 11 PM EDT, Friday, April 29, 2016.

For more information about submitting your proposal, click here.

To submit your proposal, click here or download the Word version of the proposal submission form.

 

PWN-USA Colorado Makes Critical Progress Toward HIV Criminalization Reform

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PWN-USA Colorado members and allies

March 22, 2016: PWN-USA Colorado, in partnership with allies including the CO Mod Squad, the Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health, has made enormous strides toward ending HIV criminalization in their state. Described by PWN CO Co-Chair and PWN-USA Board Chair Barb Cardell as a “community labor of love,” the process that began four years ago and included stakeholder meetings with over 100 participants, is finally starting to pay off.

A bill that would effectively repeal or significantly amend the three HIV-specific criminal codes, remove sentence enhancements for knowledge of HIV status and modernize STI statutes to include HIV was introduced into the state senate by state Senate Minority Leader Pat Steadman on March 4, and is co-sponsored in the Colorado House of Representatives by Represenative Daneya Esgar.

“Changing state law is never easy, but we hope that our Colorado lawmakers will support this legislation,” says PWN CO Co-Chair Kari Hartel. “We believe that common sense and compassion will win the day over fear and stigma.”

Want to get busy changing laws that unfairly target people living with HIV in
your state? Come to the HIV Is Not a Crime II National Training Academy in May! Registration is now open!

PWN-USA Philly Displays the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Honor of NWGHAAD

Teresa Sullivan

March 3, 2016

by Teresa Sullivan, Senior Member of PWN-USA Philadelphia, Board Member of PWN-USA

In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS related illnesses, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease.

This meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Today there are NAMES Project chapters across the United States and independent Quilt affiliates around the world. Since 1987, over 14 million people have visited the Quilt at thousands of displays worldwide. Through such displays, the NAMES Project Foundation has raised over $3 million for AIDS service organizations throughout North America.

AIDS Fund has partnered with the Names Project Foundation to present panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. On March 5, 2016, PWN-USA Philly Regional Chapter and the AIDS Fund will display one of the panels in honor of those who are gone but not forgotten at our Annual National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day event at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA 19104. Below is the panel display:

AIDS Quilt

As women activists, we must always remember our Herstory in order to change the future for women living with HIV or AIDS!

Capture AIDS Quilt for NWGHAD event in Philly

President’s Budget Affirms Commitment to HIV but Raises Concerns for Women and Youth

FEBRUARY 12, 2016: President Obama released the final budget of his presidency this week. While several components of his proposed budget offer good news for women living with and vulnerable to HIV, Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) remains concerned by the renewed proposal to eliminate Part D of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the only federal funding stream that prioritizes services for women, youth and families living with and affected by HIV.

President Obama’s budget maintains level funding of the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program at $335 million. This program is critical for many low-income, unstably housed people living with HIV, and we are relieved that, under the President’s budget, it would remain in place and funded. Legislative language changes also modernize the program to ensure better distribution of funding to geographic areas where it is currently most needed.

PWN-USA commends President Obama for eliminating funding for abstinence only until marriage (AOTM) sex education, a policy that has proven completely ineffective and unrealistic. Studies show that states teaching AOTM have higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, a waste of taxpayer dollars which could be used to fund comprehensive and non-stigmatizing sex education that affirms people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

Further, we applaud the addition of $9 million through a Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) initiative in dedicated funding for Hepatitis C testing and treatment through the Ryan White Program. About a quarter of people living with HIV also have HCV; this new initiative will assist in identifying those individuals and making sure they have access to medications that can cure HCV.

We are pleased by the President’s ongoing commitment to the Ryan White Program, a crucial safety net for women living with HIV, a majority of whom are low-income–particularly in states which have refused to expand Medicaid.

As in years past, our primary concern with this budget is the proposed elimination of Part D of the Ryan White Program. Part D-funded programs provide coordinated care and support services to women living with HIV who may be juggling caregiving responsibilities to family members and children. They also ensure support and services for youth who acquired HIV perinatally or at a young age as they transition to adult care. These programs often function as crucial and culturally relevant entry points into care for underinsured women living with HIV — and for youth, the fastest growing population living with HIV in the U.S. For young people and women living with HIV, their ability to stay engaged in care and deal with the psychological aspects of living with HIV may depend on the availability of services which educate and support family members. Part D is the only Ryan White program which has historically had some flexibility for including affected family members in service delivery.

“We are pleased to see the President’s continued commitment to the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) and new efforts to address Hepatitis C co-infection, as well as eliminating outdated abstinence-only policies. However, in light of the failure of National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2020 to address sexual and reproductive health of people living with HIV, it is urgently important to ensure that high-quality sexual and reproductive health care is maintained in the Ryan White program and expanded to people with HIV of all ages and genders.  In addition, the Part D program has historically provided services that facilitate access to care for women and youth. Independently of the mechanisms to fund such services, they must be maintained,” says Naina Khanna, Executive Director of PWN-USA.

“Part D services are vital to meeting the needs of women, children and young adults,” adds Kari Hartel, co-chair of PWN-USA Colorado and a Client Advocate and Retention Specialist in a Part D program. “The reason we’ve seen a decrease in vertical transmission is because of the extraordinary efforts of these programs. Part D is uniquely equipped to focus on the needs of women living with HIV and provides a level of support to young people that cannot be matched in other parts of the program. As we continue to see increases in the number of young adults being diagnosed with HIV, cutting Part D would be catastrophic, especially at a moment when, for the first time ever, we have the tools in care and prevention to turn the tide.”

For more details on the President’s budget proposal, click here.

 

 

 

The Epidemic Among Black Women Requires More than Rhetoric


PWN-USA Statement for National Black HIV Awareness Day

by Vanessa Johnson and Waheedah Shabazz-El

Black Americans have endured an exceptionally brutal history which complicates our present and challenges our future. Torn from our native land–the continent that gave birth to humankind–we have been systematically dehumanized to serve as chattel in a foreign land. Even now, the United States offers Black Americans citizenship only at a substandard quality of life and without an opportunity for reparations and healing. Given this history, and our understanding of HIV as an epidemic that thrives on inequality and injustice, an HIV epidemic among Black Americans should hardly come as an unexpected surprise.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is anything but a celebration. It is a grim reminder of how far we still have to go, and how hard we still have to fight. Black lives will matter when our nation confronts and conquers the hypocrisy of those who claim to cherish all life yet place greater value on fetuses than on living, breathing Black children and adults.

Throughout this epidemic, HIV has shined a bright spotlight on the wide range of injustices confronting Black Americans: intergenerational poverty, mass incarceration, institutionalized racism, inadequate access to health care, inferior educational opportunities, disproportionate targeting by police, a racist criminal justice system, and more. If there is anything that the HIV community has universally accepted, it is the understanding that HIV is more than just a medical condition. The federal response to this epidemic serves as a very window into the soul of one of the richest nations on earth — a nation which continually leaves Black Americans in its wake, drowning in the torrents of a largely preventable disease. Merely half a century after the end of segregation, in a nation whose economic basis is founded on Jim Crow laws and which turns a blind eye to the systemic injustices facing people of color, we cannot feign surprise that there continues to be an epidemic of HIV among Black Americans and that Black people living with HIV face worse health outcomes on average.

Although some progress has been made, Black Americans are still fighting for access to the most fundamental human rights – including water, food, employment, education, and the right to vote. We continue to be locked out of meaningful civic participation, fair representation and decision-making from the local level to the highest halls of federal government.

This rings particularly true for Black American women, whose plight and leadership in this epidemic continue to be minimized. Despite the advances made to reduce new infections, Black American women still acquire HIV at an alarming rate–representing 60% of new infections among women–and remain the majority of women living with HIV in this country. Although Black women comprise nearly two-third of the domestic HIV epidemic among women, Black women living with HIV are still not a priority in the newly-released National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS 2020).

As an advocacy organization, Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA), the premier voice for women living with HIV in the United States, will not stand idly by in silence while women of African descent continue to bear the brunt of this disease and policymakers’ indifference to its effects on our community. We demand that our government invest in effective HIV prevention for Black women, as well as in women-centered, whole-person, universal health care that addresses the barriers to engagement and retention in care for women with HIV. Medicalization of HIV will continue to fail in addressing the needs of women living with and vulnerable to HIV when they do not have adequate access to basic resources to stay healthy.

The HIV epidemic in this country will end when America commits to the underlying conditions which enable HIV to thrive, such as racism and poverty. We demand a laser focus on upholding the full health, rights, and dignity of Black women living with HIV over the next five years of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s implementation.

PWN-USA Members Represent on World AIDS Day 2015!

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PWN-USA members were on the move this World AIDS Day, representing at events from coast to coast! (Don’t see your event and/or photos here? Please contact Jennie at jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org with relevant info and/or photos and she will add them!)

PWN-USA New York City–our newest affiliated regional chapter!–participated in the Brooklyn “Saving Our Homes, Saving Our Lives” charity awards benefit to raise awareness of the challenges facing low-income and formerly homeless people living with HIV, as well as in a World AIDS Day event at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater organized to show support for Governor Cuomo’s plan to end AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.

PWN-USA South Carolina members attended a screening of the film Wilhemina’s War at the Nickelodeon Theater in Columbia, SC, sponsored by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. PWNer Stacy Jennings also starred in a play, “Sex HIS Way,” with a plot line about women and HIV.

PWN-USA Colorado member and Board Chair Barb Cardell was quite busy on and before World AIDS Day, shuttling from one event to another, speaking at a concert hosted by the Boulder County AIDS Project, a breakfast in Fort Collins for the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, a lunch in Denver for the Colorado AIDS Project, and a World AIDS Day candlelight vigil and community education event hosted by the Pueblo County Health Center. (She somehow also found time to be interviewed for this awesome article by former PWN-USA Communications Director Olivia Ford for thebody.com.)

PWN-USA member Lepena Reid in Florida rivaled Barb for being in the most places in a single day, assisting the Florida Department of Health in testing over 190 people on December 1, representing PWN-USA at a historical black church in Tampa alongside students from University of South Florida, Pastors on Patrol, local ASOs, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Purple Up for Domestic Violence, Delta Sigma sorority; and at a dedication of the AIDS Memorial Park in Tampa with the mayor, the AIDS Institute, the Department of Health, other ASOs and government officials. (See photos in slideshow above.)

PWN-USA Philly, not to be outdone, represented PWN at a World AIDS Day event at Temple University, addressing the gathering on the subject of HIV criminalization (see photo in slideshow above).

In San Francisco, PWN-USA Bay Area members attended the amfAR Cure Summit at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where researchers explained progress toward a cure for HIV that will be furthered with a $20 million grant just received from amfAR, bringing attention to populations (such as women) too often left out of clinical trials.

In North Carolina, PWN-USA Strategic Communications Action Team member Alicia Diggs participated in a press conference with the North Carolina AIDS Action Network in Durham (see photo in slideshow above).

PWN-USA Louisiana member Rachel Moats shared her story in an article that came out on December 1 in Women’s Health magazine to fight stigma.

PWN-USA Georgia members were very active in fighting stigma across the state, representing at a World AIDS Day event at Morehouse College in Atlanta and at another at the Betterway Foundation in Columbus, GA. (See photos in slideshow above.) Members and allies participated in a special event in honor of World AIDS Day at Shy Temple Memorial Church in Atlanta on December 4, including a writing workshop led by author Khafre Kujichagulia, a candlelight vigil and a balloon release (see photos in slideshow above). One of the chapter’s newest members, Danielle Atkins (a.k.a. Ghetto Rose) even performed in a World AIDS Day commemoration event at Tavernpointe Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta. And on December 1, a breathtakingly beautiful documentary about another new PWN-USA Georgia member, Patricia Semiens, was released. Watch it here and share widely!