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

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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

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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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50 Organizations Sign on to Letter to HRSA to Prioritize Trauma-Informed Care

Last month, PWN-USA and the Women’s HIV Program (WHP) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) submitted a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA HAB), administrators of the federal Ryan White Program, recommending key National HIV/AIDS Strategy implementation steps to advance trauma-informed care. (Read the full text of PWN-USA and WHP’s letter to HRSA HAB here.)

50 organizations from around the country signed onto the letter in support of these requests for action to support implementing trauma-informed practices in clinics receiving federal Ryan White funding:

  • 30 for 30 Campaign
  • AIDS Foundation of Chicago
  • AIDS United
  • Albany Damien Center
  • Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
  • BABES
  • Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center
  • Black AIDS Institute
  • Borinquen Behavioral Health
  • Boulder Community Health
  • Cascade AIDS Project
  • Christie’s Place
  • Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA)
  • Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan
  • Counter Narrative Project
  • Desiree Alliance
  • Gran Varones
  • Harlem United
  • Hartford Commission on HIV/AIDS
  • HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
  • HIVE at UCSF
  • IKnowAwareness
  • International Community of Women Living with HIV, North America
  • Iris House, Inc.
  • Khulumani Support Group
  • Legacy Community Health
  • Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome)
  • Michigan Coalition for HIV Health and Safety
  • National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)
  • National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.
  • National Working Positive Coalition
  • Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative
  • Positive Iowans Taking Charge
  • PWN-USA Colorado Chapter
  • PWN-USA Louisiana Chapter
  • PWN-USA Michigan Regional Chapter
  • Ribbon Consulting Group
  • RISE Multimedia
  • Sex Worker’s Outreach Project
  • SisterLove, Inc.
  • Southern AIDS Coalition
  • Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (“SASI”)
  • Treat Me Right, Inc.
  • Tripp Consulting
  • US People Living with HIV Caucus
  • Wayne State University Prevention Services
  • Women with a Vision, Inc.
  • The Women’s Collective

PWN-USA thanks all of these organizations for their help in emphasizing the importance of trauma-informed care in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and in holding HRSA HAB accountable for prioritizing it in the implementation steps.

National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV = Success

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October 23, 2015, was our second National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV (WLHIV)–and what a success it was! Thanks to an outpouring of support from our members, communities, allies and organizations working both in HIV and with intersectional issues:

  • Our Day of Action was endorsed by 92 organizations from around the world (see below) as well as an additional 84 individuals
  • Numerous and diverse organizations and individuals participated in our lively and informative Twitter Chat, co-hosted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (@nnedv), SisterLove Inc. (@SisterLove_Inc) and The Well Project (@TheWellProject), the morning of October 23, using our hashtags #EndVAWHIV and #PWNspeaks
  • Our Flashblog to #EndVAWHIV includes 18 contributions, including the stories of WLHIV impacted by violence and trauma, as well as posts on the topic and intersectional issues from organizations and individuals dedicated to working with WLHIV and domestic violence survivors, several of which were also featured on HIVPlusMag.com and TheBody.com
  • At least 6 diverse organizations posted statements of support for the Day of Action on their websites
  • Countless individuals and organizations changed their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures to our official Day of Action logo
  • Across the country, people heard and discussed the stories of overcoming violence of 5 PWN-USA members in the Kaiser Family Foundation film, Empowered, part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign (see video below)

The goal of our Day of Action is, of course, not only to raise awareness–a critical first step–but also to put forward solutions. One of the major initiatives PWN-USA is working toward is routine implementation of trauma-informed model of care for WLHIV, especially in clinics receiving federal Ryan White Program funding. We are also working to repeal laws that place WLHIV at disproportionate risk of violence, including laws criminalizing HIV, which discourage testing and treatment while perpetuating damaging stigma by sending the message that people living with HIV are dangerous, as well as laws criminalizing sex work and drug use.

PWN-USA called for the first National Day of Action to End Violence Against WLHIV last year in the wake of the brutal murders of Cicely Bolden and Elisha Henson, both of Texas, following disclosure of their HIV status. Nationally, 55% of WLHIV have faced intimate partner violence–and women with a history of trauma are more vulnerable to acquiring HIV. Click here for more facts about violence against WLHIV, or read this excellent article on HIVEqual.org.

PWN-USA thanks the following organizations for partnering with us and/or endorsing our second National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV on October 23, 2015:

  • 30 for 30 Campaign
  • A Sister’s Gift Women’s Center, Dallas
  • ACT UP London
  • African Services Committee
  • AIDS Alabama
  • AIDS Foundation of Chicago
  • AIDS Project Los Angeles
  • AIDS United
  • Albanian Association OF PLWHA
  • APLA Health & Wellness
  • AS – Center For The Empowerment Youth Of People Who Are Living With HIV And AIDS
  • Aspirations
  • BABES-Network YWCA
  • Being Alive!
  • Bill’s Kitchen, Inc.
  • Caracole
  • Cascade AIDS Project
  • Center for Health and Gender Equity
  • Chicago Women’s AIDS Project
  • Christie’s Place
  • Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
  • Counter Narrative Project
  • CoyoteRI
  • emPOWERed Legacies
  • Federal AIDS Policy Partnership Structural Interventions Workgroup (FAPP SIWG)
  • Fierce Caucus and Black Womens Caucus of Union Theological Seminary
  • FORCE Baltimore
  • Forward Together Oakland
  • G III Associates
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
  • GIRL U CAN DO IT, INC.
  • Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches
  • Global Network of People Living with HIV, North America
  • GMFA The Gay Men’s Health Charity (London)
  • HAART Inc., Baton Rouge
  • Healthy & Free Tennessee
  • Hektoen Institute of Medicine
  • HIV Disclosure Project
  • HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
  • HIVE
  • Housing Works Brooklyn
  • Houston AIDS Research Team Cross-Network HIV CAB
  • Howard Brown Health Center
  • In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
  • International HIV Partnerships
  • International Network of People Who Use Drugs
  • Justice for All Coalition
  • Lambda Legal L.A.
  • Latino Commission on AIDS
  • Lee’s Rig Hub
  • National Female Condom Coalition
  • National HIV/AIDS Disability Project
  • National Network to End Domestic Violence
  • National Press Club,Nepal
  • National Working Positive Coalition
  • NYTAG
  • Older Women Embracing Life, Inc.
  • Our Story Inc.
  • Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative
  • Philadelphia Center
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health Ambulatory Health Services PrEP Program
  • Positive Living Women Malaysia
  • PowerSource Tucson
  • PWN-USA Colorado
  • PWN-USA South Carolina
  • PWN-USA San Diego
  • PWN-USA Bay Area
  • PWN-USA Louisiana
  • PWN-USA Ohio
  • PWN-USA Michigan
  • PWN-USA Philadelphia
  • PWN-USA Georgia
  • ReShape
  • Ribbon Consulting Group
  • Sero Project
  • Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS)
  • SisterLove, Inc.
  • SisterReach, Memphis
  • SisterSong
  • Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care Kansas City
  • SKUC (Slovenia)
  • The Afiya Center
  • The Empowerment Program Denver
  • The Praxis Project
  • The Sophia Forum
  • The Well Project
  • The Women’s Collective Washington, DC
  • Transgender Law Center
  • Tunisian Association of Positive Prévention
  • Women & Life
  • WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases)
  • Women With A Vision, Inc.
  • Women’s HIV Program at UCSF

Click below to watch and share the Kaiser Family Foundation film, Empowered, featuring 5 PWN-USA members in conversation with Tonya Lee Lewis:

And watch PWN-USA Georgia member Danielle, AKA Ghetto Rose, perform a spoken word piece on her experience with domestic violence: