250 Women from 29 States, DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico & Canada SPEAK UP!

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Regional Organizing Institute, Tuesday, September 27

September 28, 2016: After many months and countless hours of planning, organizing and collaborating on a common vision by our Summit Planning Committee of over 20 women living with HIV, SPEAK UP! 2016–the only national leadership summit for women living with HIV–is finally here!

The Summit kicked off Tuesday with three special Institutes: one for leaders of PWN-USA’s eleven official affiliated regional chapters; one for women of trans* experience, led by Positively Trans; and one for young women living with HIV. The full-day institutes gave participants an opportunity to connect, prioritize issues and strategize around how to elevate those issues and reach their goals.

Tuesday evening, the full Summit opened with the plenary State of the Movement featuring 5 fierce panelists: Khafre Abif, Cecilia Chung, Grissel Granados, Vanessa Johnson and Andy Spieldenner, who discussed what the HIV movement is today, what is working, what is not, what needs to change and how intersectional issues affect people living with and vulnerable to HIV. The plenary was followed by a special screening of the documentary co-directed by and featuring Grissel Granados, We’re Still Here, following young people who were born with HIV and the unique challenges they face.

Wednesday morning started with an all-star panel discussing federal policy around HIV, women’s health, health care access and reproductive rights, featuring Dr. Amy Lansky, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy; Marty Bond, Senior Public Health Advisor for the Office on Women’s Health; Bill McColl, Esq., Director of Health Policy for AIDS United; and Monica Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong. And much, much more is still in store as SPEAK UP! 2016 continues!

To keep up with the latest, follow the hashtag #pwnspeaks on Twitter (and follow us @uspwn), and check our Facebook page for updates–and of course our Facebook photo album!

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Young Women’s Institute, Tuesday, September 27
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Institute for Women of Trans Experience, Tuesday, September 27

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

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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 Members Raise Awareness on National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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From coast to coast and across the World Wide Web, Positive Women’s Network – USA members took advantage of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), March 10, and the days before and after to raise awareness: both to the fact that women are still vulnerable to HIV and about the unique challenges facing them.

From hosting or co-hosting special events, like PWN-USA Philadelphia and PWN-USA Ohio did, to speaking at existing events, like PWN-USA Colorado and PWN-USA Georgia did, to writing wonderful blogs like PWN-USA Bay Area did, our members went above and beyond to make sure that the women who needed to hear the message heard it.

PWN-USA also released our community-based participatory research report on March 10, detailing the barriers to care so many women living with HIV face, in a webinar, and continued the conversation on Twitter with our partners at Greater Than AIDS and The Well Project.

The PWN-USA Ohio event inspired this lovely poem by Princess:

We are family and Sisters.

Give Love to one another, know matter what the issue my be; we all have the same thing in common, called the Virus, that continues to spread. It’s been around over 30 years.

We, as Sisters, understand one another’s feeling and love each other for who we are. We don’t expect anything from one another.

We will show our Love to each other, and say, “I understand, and together, we will overcome this Virus.”

Think positive, encourage one another, when one feels down, pick her up and give her a  loving Sister hug and say, “It’s OK, you’re going to be all right.”

Stand by each other, whether you are black or white, or in-between, in showing one another the Sister hugs. Just because we have the Virus, we are not going to let it get us down, but instead pick us up, and encourage us to pick each other up.

With our Faith, we  travel through the New Beginning of a New Day as we walk day by day, encouraging our Sisters and ourselves in saying, “We are someone and will always  be somebody,” to encourage other Sisters in fighting this Virus called HIV & AIDS.

From Sister with HIV

 

PWN-USA Launches 2 New Training Series

March 17, 2016

PWN-USA is excited to announce our launch of two new web-based training series this month: a 4-part communications training series and a 3-part policy training series, open to all women living with HIV and HIV advocates.

Click below to read more about each series and register for upcoming trainings!

Communications Training Series

Policy Training Series

Due Feb. 26: Share Your Expertise; Build the Movement to End HIV Criminalization!

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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 submit an abstract between now and Friday, February 26!

Positive Women’s Network – USA and the Sero Project, two networks of people living with HIV, are co-organizing this much-anticipated convening.

Got something to say about intersectional leadership skills and coalition building? Propose a workshop!

Is your organization doing dynamic work to address criminal justice issues, while centering the communities most impacted? We need to know about it!

Is an aspect of campaign strategy your strength? Share your skills!

Want to make an immediate impact in the region most heavily affected by not only HIV, but many other symptoms of a history steeped in injustice and trauma? Come help build the movement against HIV criminalization, in the South and across the United States!

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.

Session tracks for the training academy are as follows:

1) Effective and Accountable Leadership – Building relevant and current leadership skills for an effective and intersectional criminalization movement

2) Rights, Policy and Justice – Invite and encourage submissions on issues specific to communities targeted by policing practices due to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, substance use, and other forms of discrimination.

3) Campaign Planning, Strategy and Messaging – Submissions may focus on the “nuts-and-bolts” required in organizing grassroots advocacy efforts, including messaging research and positioning, how to best utilize research to persuade media, policy leaders and legislators and creation and execution of a campaign plan.

We welcome proposals for sessions that are participatory, timely, intersectional, practical, and action-oriented – as well as intergenerational, multiracial, and demonstrating geographic diversity in their analysis and in the team of facilitators. 

The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday, February 26, 2016 by 5:00 pm CST (6:00 pm EST, 3:00 PST).  Email workshop submissions to conference@seroproject.com. You will receive notice of acceptance on Friday, April 1, 2016.

General registration is also open! For more information, please visit our website: www.hivisnotacrime.com.

“It’s time for us to  advance the discourse around intersections between HIV criminalization, racist policing, drug policy reform, and sex worker criminalization,” says Naina Khanna, Executive Director of Positive Women’s Network-USA. “We can best do this by building a grassroots movement for policy change, led by the communities most impacted by these issues.”

Get your workshop proposal in TODAY!