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

 

Groundbreaking Report Identifies Unique Needs of Women Living with HIV, Challenges to Engagement in Care

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

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

 March 10, 2016 – “What would improve your ability to stay in care?” That is the fundamental question 14 researchers, all women living with HIV, asked 180 participants from seven different geographic areas in a community-based participatory research project spearheaded by Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), a national membership body of women with HIV. Participants were then asked about which specific services they needed, which services they currently had access to, and how well those services were meeting their needs. Among the key findings:

  • Women living with HIV are living in extreme poverty. 89.7% of the women surveyed were below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), with 73.8% below 100% FPL.
  • Poverty affected more than just their ability to pay for drugs and medical services. 50% of respondents who had missed a medical appointment in the past year cited transportation as the reason.
  • 17% of respondents had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and9% with depression. Cost, lack of coverage, lack of available services or waitlists for services presented significant barriers for many women in accessing these services.
  • While most respondents had been screened for cervical cancer according to current guidelines, only 40% of women of reproductive age had been asked if they needed birth control; just 39.4% had been asked if they wanted to get pregnant. And shockingly, 38.1% of participants had not been told by a provider that achieving viral suppression would dramatically reduce risk of transmission.

The Ryan White CARE Act, first passed by Congress in 1990, has been a life-saving safety net program for hundreds of thousands of women living with HIV, serving as a payer of last resort for medical care and the supportive services that so many people living with HIV—particularly women, who are so often heads of household and responsible for multiple generations living under one roof—need in order to stay engaged in care. The Ryan White Program is due to be reauthorized and remains desperately needed, particularly in states that have refused to expand Medicaid.

The Ryan White Program is working well, but the needs of people with HIV have changed and some women are still simply not able to access the services they need to stay in continuous care. “One thing that struck me is how many women need counseling and mental health assistance, but don’t know how to go about getting it,” said Pat Kelly of Orangeburg, South Carolina, one of the community-based researchers on the project.

For others, stigma or inadequate knowledge among medical providers means women living with HIV are not receiving comprehensive sexual and reproductive care that affirms their rights and desires to have families post-diagnosis. “I believe if more providers discussed the option of treatment as prevention with their patients, especially female patients, it would open up more opportunities for the patients to consider starting a family safely. For a lot of women living with HIV in their childbearing years, having a family is important. Many of them still think it’s not possible to do safely. But if this conversation starts happening with their providers, it will give them a choice and hope. All women should have that choice,” explained Evany Turk, research team member from Chicago, IL.

PWN-USA will be presenting more detailed information about these and other important findings of the project today on a webinar, “Securing the Future of Women-Centered Care,” at 1 PM EST/10 AM PST, and will host a Twitter Chat with special guests Greater Than AIDS and The Well Project at 3 PM EST to continue the conversation using the hashtags #NWGHAAD and #PWNspeaks.

The full report is available here.

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women centered care graphic

Securing the Future of Women-Centered Care

Findings of a Community-Based Research Project

“What would improve your ability to stay in care?” That is the fundamental question women with HIV sought to answer in a community-based participatory research project. 14 women living with HIV (WLHIV) from across the US surveyed other WLHIV in their communities to assess what is and is not working well for women in the context of Affordable Care Act implementation, changes to Ryan White service delivery and the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

“One thing that struck me is how many women need counseling and mental health assistance, but don’t know how to go about getting it,” said Pat Kelly, PWN-USA Board Co-Parliamentarian and one of the community-based researchers on the project.

In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we invite you to join Positive Women’s Network – USA for a webinar presenting the key findings of this research project: Securing the Future of Women-Centered Care. Discussion will focus on implications for the future of the Ryan White program.

Please join us Thursday, March 10, 2016, from 1-2:30 PM ET/10-11:30 AM PTRegister for the webinar today!

Then, head to Twitter at 3 PM ET to continue the conversation with our partners The Well Project and Greater Than AIDS using the hashtags #NWGHAAD and #PWNspeaks!

NWGHAAD Twitter chat promo v2
 

Advancing Collaborative and Shared Leadership and Participation Inclusive of Women Living with HIV

Remarks Delivered at the White House’s National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Event, “Stepping Out of the Shadows: HIV & Violence against Women and Girls”

By Vanessa Johnson, PWN-USA National Training and Leadership Director

bio - vanessa johnson - headshot
Vanessa Johnson, JD.

I bring you greetings from the Ribbon Consulting Group, a Washington, DC-based firm where I serve as one of its Co-Directors. I am also a Board member of the Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) as well as the National Women and AIDS Collective (NWAC).  I was diagnosed with HIV 25 years ago in 1990, the same year I graduated from Temple University’s School of Law.

I want to thank Douglas Brooks, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, for inviting me to speak and I want to acknowledge all the other women living with HIV who are with us today, and those who are not. I stand in solidarity with them.

It is on this day, the 10th Anniversary of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), that I begin my remarks by noting, the World Health Organization, as one of its strategies to end the global AIDS epidemic, authored three international declarations which make commitments to support the greater involvement of women, including women living with HIV, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Here in the United States, the basis for supporting the participation of women living with HIV is found in the Denver Principles, an historic document authored in 1983, which outlines the rights of people living with HIV as well as recommendations for participatory leadership and decision-making. Over the course of this 34-year fight, people living with HIV, both men and women, have worked tirelessly to ensure we have a stake in an ongoing battle which has taken the lives of over 600,000 Americans and threatens the health and well-being of another 1.2 million Americans, including 300,000 women, who are living with HIV today in the U.S.

For example, today’s focus on domestic violence and women would not be possible without the leadership and advocacy of women, especially women living with HIV.  The leadership of women living with HIV led to the March 2012 Presidential memorandum establishing a White House working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender-related health disparities. President Obama’s signing of this memorandum might not have been possible if it were not for the willingness of women in a domestic violence shelter in Duluth, MN, to share their lived experiences with intimate partner violence.

Without their stories, we might not have an understanding that violence against women is grounded in power and control. Likewise, if it were not for the willingness of countless women living with HIV to tell their stories of past and present experiences with violence and trauma, we might not be here at this moment in time affirming what was noted in earlier presentations and the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Resolution that, “women most at risk for or living with HIV are more likely to experience sexual or intimate partner violence one or more times in their lives.”

I stand in here in hope that both communities of women, HIV and domestic violence, which are inextricably linked, will build upon a shared vision to create a world where women, regardless of HIV status, no longer experience violence in their lives. We together must advance collaborative, shared, and supportive leadership which:

1) brings gender equality and human rights perspectives to the forefront;

2) clearly recognizes the role and influence of all women, including women living with HIV;

3) spearheads strategies that effectively address the underlying causes of HIV such as violence against women, feminized poverty and women’s limited voice in decision-making; and

4) reminds our national leaders and partners that the best outcomes are always ones that start with meaningful involvement of affected populations.

Thank you.

Watch the video from the White House event (Vanessa Johnson’s comments begin at 2:27:00)

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Read more about what PWN-USA members are doing on NWGHAAD

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Stepping Up Commitment: Women and Girls Living with HIV Must Matter Every Day of the Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Olivia Ford, oford.pwnusa@gmail.com / 347.553.5174 

March 10, 2015 – Each year, on March 10, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is observed in the US. But at Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), a national advocacy network of women living with HIV, we work on addressing the HIV epidemic among women year round. We don’t expect everyone to do that. There are many other issues and communities that require sustained focus and commitment.

However,  the federal government has consistently failed to prioritize women in the domestic HIV response:

Consequently, we are compelled to point out the myriad ways in which violence is perpetrated against women living with HIV. The intersections between HIV, violence and trauma for women are well-documented in the literature, and we applaud the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP)’s lead role in addressing this critical issue, forming a federal interagency workgroup to address it, and making this issue the centerpiece of its NWGHAAD focus this year.

However, it is important to recognize that violence comes in many forms – from institutions, policies, and practices that systematically render transgender people invisible, to power structures that consistently fail to meaningfully involve women and other communities impacted by HIV in generating recommendations, solutions, and decisions about policies and programs that impact our lives.

To effectively address the HIV epidemic among women, including the estimated 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States, the next National HIV/AIDS Strategy – which will be released this year – must include strategic priorities that address women’s needs.  These include the need for high quality, non-stigmatizing sexual and reproductive healthcare for women with HIV throughout the lifespan, implementation of trauma-informed practices in care settings, and family-centered services that facilitate and support access to care for people living with HIV.

Most important, people living with HIV must be meaningfully involved in crafting sustainable policy and programmatic solutions that reflect the realities of our lives.  On #NWGHAAD, and every day of the year: Nothing about us #WithoutUs.

White Paper Shows Key Gaps in the Affordable Care Act and Opportunities for the Ryan White Program to Provide Healthcare for Women with HIV

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Download the full report (PDF)

Download a one-page summary of the report (PDF)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Nerissa Irizarry, Positive Women’s Network-USA – nerissa.pwnusa@gmail.com
Melanie Medalle, SisterLove, Inc. – mmedalle@sisterlove.org
Ariel Tazkargy, National Women’s Health Network – atazkargy@nwhn.org

March 10, 2015 – March 10th marks the observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – an occasion to recognize the impact of HIV on the lives of women and girls. On this National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, three organizations working to achieve health justice for women are illuminating the healthcare coverage disparities that impact women living with HIV, and proposing solutions for HIV and health justice advocates.

Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA), National Women’s Health Network, and SisterLove, Inc., today released a collaborative policy paper examining the unique healthcare needs of women living with HIV, highlighting key opportunities as well as gaps in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and underlining the importance of the Ryan White Program in the current arrangement of public healthcare for people living with HIV.

“Although the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released in 2010, underscored the importance of ensuring access to care for people with HIV, women with HIV continue to face barriers to care which must be addressed,” says Naina Khanna, PWN-USA Executive Director.

In this extremely unsettled post-Affordable Care Act environment, thousands of low-income women and communities of color affected by HIV still lack sufficient health coverage to meet physical and mental health needs, including HIV-related healthcare and life-saving medications. As a result, many people living with HIV rely on critical gap-filling funds administered through Ryan White, for HIV care, medication, and support services. But for women with HIV, access to care through Ryan White is facing a massive threat: elimination of women-specific services if Ryan White Part D is consolidated into Part C, as proposed by the President’s 2016 budget.

We are releasing this policy paper for advocates to use in efforts to promote the needs of women living with HIV in all federal and state-level healthcare coverage discussions. “The unique needs of women affected by HIV, especially in the Deep South, require a greater amount of attention and priority in the implementation of the ACA and the preservation of the Ryan White CARE Act,” says Dazon Dixon Diallo, Executive Director/CEO of SisterLove, Inc. “We will never get to the end of this epidemic without achieving better health outcomes and lower incidence of HIV disease in women in this country.”

We encourage advocates to use the information presented as an entry point for discussions with policymakers, and to use and adapt the recommendations to advance policy goals.

Read and download the full report: Ryan White and the Affordable Care Act: Advocating for Public Healthcare for Women Living with HIV (PDF)

Read and download a one-page summary of the report (PDF)

 

Sister Warriors

By Wanda Brendle-Moss, PWN-USA Member

This article originally appeared on March 4, on The Well Project’s A Girl Like Me blog.

Wanda Brendle-Moss.
Wanda Brendle-Moss.

As we approach National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, 2015, my mind is taking a magical mystery journey…

Start Date 1981, the beginning of what would be my 20 years as a Registered Nurse. There was a disease formerly known as GRID, now given a new name, HIV, Human ImmunoDeficiency Virus, and in the advanced stages called AIDS. I worked at North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Now Wake Health) a #1 rated Medical Center in my area. Even given that we were supposedly gifted with some of the medical community’s greatest minds…people admitted with this virus were dying.

For me as a new nurse (I was 27, a single mother of 2, having attended nursing school after the break up of my 1st of 3 marriages) there were several things that went through my mind. My son was about to become a teenager, so when we were all watching the news and the virus was given a name, explaining how it was spread, etc., I told my son that no matter what, he was to respect himself and whomever he chose to eventually have sex with by always, always using condoms.

The other thing that was happening at the hospital…being the “new kid” on the floor…Typically assignments that others did not want went to the new kid. And whenever one of “those men” was admitted, I typically would be their nurse, the difference being…I was unafraid. They were someone’s loved one…and my nursing philosophy to the day I stopped nursing was…every patient is someone’s father, brother, mother, sister, son, or daughter…and I treated them as I wanted my family members treated.

What struck me though was…Where were the women?? … Click this link to read the rest of this article, and view even more photos of Sister Warriors, on The Well Project’s A Girl Like Me blog!

Words Matter: Sharing as Much as I’m Comfortable to Stand Up to HIV Stigma

By Tami Haught, PWN-USA Member

Tami Haught.
Tami Haught.

How we introduce ourselves makes a difference; the words we use matter.

When asked at a meeting to introduce myself, I will start with: My name is Tami Haught and I have been living with HIV for 21 years. Sharing that little bit of information about myself is selling myself short and not conveying the full message that I want to share with others. Not that being comfortable with sharing the fact that I am living with HIV isn’t a big deal; disclosure is never easy and opens you up to ridicule, stigma, discrimination, bullying, and rejection, and it took a long time for me to share.

I’ve been thinking though: Does this little bit of information make me relatable, or does it continue the perception that “HIV won’t happen to me”? However, this introduction shares more of my story, which hopefully more people can relate to, and shows that HIV can happen to anyone – after all, I am just like you:

My name is Tami Haught. I have been a mother living with HIV for 18 years. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend living with HIV for 21 years. I was a wife living with HIV for almost three years. I have been openly living with HIV for 15 years.

I am beginning to think this more expanded introduction can help people relate to me better; after all, I am sure whoever I am talking with will be like I was, assuming HIV would never touch their lives. But talking about being a mother – everyone has one.

The other descriptions of my life open up the opportunity for people to ask questions:

Why have you only been living openly with HIV for 15 years??

This gives me the opportunity to share that for the first six years of living with HIV I lived in silence because of the stigma, self-shame, and fear after my diagnosis. My late husband (thus being a wife for almost three years) didn’t want to share our status; we lived in Texas, where the hate, fear, stigma, and discrimination were rampant.

Words matter; and to help reduce the stigma of HIV, we need to use as many as we feel comfortable sharing. If we give people the opportunity to self-identify similar traits or characteristics, others may begin to recognize that I am just like them or they are just like me. Once people who aren’t living with HIV realize people living with HIV are just like them, maybe we can truly make a difference – because we will not be just a number, the far-off “someone else.” HIV does not discriminate, and anyone can contract HIV.

Tami Haught is an Iowa-based PWN-USA member, SERO Project Criminalization Confererence Coordinator, Community Organizer for CHAIN (Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network), President of PITCH (Positive Iowans Taking Charge), and a member of the USPLHIV Caucus Steering Committee and the GNP+NA Board.

I’m Feelin’ Like a Criminal: Why the Law Won’t Stop the Spread of HIV

By Loren Jones, PWN-USA Board Member

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Loren Jones.

Some of us, due to our chance assignment from birth to certain races, genders, and classes, have pretty much been outlaws all our lives. And now, here we go; another notch on the cowgirl list of broken laws (in more than 30 states): “HIV positive and living as assumed normal.”

HIV criminalization laws are driven by irrational knee-jerk fear. The kind of fears and ignorance that led us to the path of becoming “positive” to begin with. Fear of living life alone. Fear of being one more variety of strange, nasty, weird, and untouchable is even stronger than the fear of death for some of us. People face the same types of stigma and violence from these laws that they face on the streets.

Shame never helps you learn. It only makes people hide deeper and farther from sight.

When I received my diagnosis in about 1985, while single, homeless, and hanging with a group of similarly marginalized outlaws living by our own code of right, wrong, and loyal, I immediately made the decision not to tell. Mostly for the same reasons that a lot of people don’t tell others they’re living with HIV: I could not afford to lose what little I had, in terms of companions and lovers, such as they were. Besides, I was healthy, and really did not trust a society or medical profession that didn’t really like people like us anyway.

None of us were perfect then. And we are not now. But we didn’t, and still don’t, blame each other for much. After all, I was there, you were there, and we were all there in the moment. Yeah, we should have known better. There were always STIs. But life is a crap shoot anyway. And if the violence don’t get you, something else will. I have and still do risk a lot for what I call my friends. And that has included my body.

We are not evil, horrible people. Nor were we or are we insatiable, uncaring whores and killers. We don’t deserve to go to jail for living with HIV. We go to jail too much as it is.

I have grown with the science. Truly, as I knew better, I did better. Education, and making every human being feel valued and well-loved as who they are, is still the answer to stopping the spread of HIV. The law will never be.

Loren Jones is a resident of Berkeley, California, a co-founder and Board Member of PWN-USA, and a Senior Member of PWN-USA’s Bay Area Chapter.

More Articles by Loren Jones

Women, Violence and HIV

Involving local, state, and global commissions in Violence Against Women

 

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Criminalization Information

The Red Flags of My Past (and Future): Real Links Between Trauma and HIV

By Heather

It wasn’t until February 10, 2015, that I truly realized the profound connection between trauma and HIV. I always knew about a correlation, but what did that really mean to me? It meant everything I had read regarding past traumatic experiences having an effect on one’s ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships with themselves and others was real. This means that individuals living with traumatic pasts, regardless of whether it was child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, may partake in risky behaviors as a result, sometimes unknowingly. I understood all of this, but how did it pertain to me and my diagnosis?

My life was filled with traumatic events that included homelessness, molestation, discrimination, rape, domestic violence, and child abuse. However, I never actually thought about how these past events “caused” my diagnosis. Yes I was insecure, sexually confused, depressed, and feared abandonment, but I had overcome all of these things. I made the best of my past experiences and put them to good use helping others. I sought out Mental Health therapy and worked through it all. I started college, was doing wonderfully in the military, and had met the man of my dreams. I had no idea that my past was still a huge part of my decision-making process, because I thought I had overcome those obstacles. I was wrong.

Like I stated before, on February 10, 2015, the link between my past and my diagnosis hit me square in the face. I was forced to look back and understand it all. I was sitting at home, it was late, and my husband and children were asleep. I was awake because I wasn’t feeling well and my cough was keeping me from resting. My husband’s phone started to beep over and over again, and I got tired of hearing it, so I picked it up to turn the ringer to silent mode. Upon picking it up I realized that it was his email, and looking further at the unknown Outlook email, I thought maybe it was his boss trying to get a hold of him. This was normal for him because he is a land surveyor, and when it rains he is called out (even in the middle of the night) to get water samples. So I opened his email to see if it was his boss, and what I saw was further from that.

The inbox of his email was overloaded with emails from him to other men seeking sexual connections. I read and re-read the emails, going back and forth. I could not believe what I was reading or seeing. My husband of 10 years had been secretly sleeping with men, several men, on countless occasions.

I was shaking beyond belief. I was in such shock that tears were not even possible. I walked over to him in our bed, woke him up, and asked him for a divorce. He asked me why and I showed him his phone. He had no words, nothing. He walked out of our bedroom and went outside, smoked a cigarette and then came back. I didn’t know what to say or do. I felt alone trying to pick up the pieces and to figure out what just happened.

After several days of thinking, piecing things together, and looking back to our past, I realized that I had overlooked several red flags prior to and during our marriage. This is where my past affected my diagnosis. You see, before I started to date my husband I was his boss in the military. I remember in 2004 our Commanding Officer asking me to bring him in to talk, and then he disappeared for two weeks. When he returned, he simply explained to everyone that he had had a family emergency, but all was well. Later that year we started dating, and in 2005 he moved in with me and my two daughters from a previous marriage. We were happy and in love, but looking back opened my eyes to things I saw and failed to respond or react to.

I noticed that initially he never went to sleep with me, and he stayed up late on the computer. One night I snuck downstairs and saw what he was looking at. He was on Craigslist looking at pictures of transgender individuals. Another time he left his email open and he had been meeting some girl named Sara, and when I called Sara’s number a guy answered the phone saying <i>he</i> was Sara. After that incident I Googled his name and found several websites with his profile seeking men, transgender, transvestite, and transsexual individuals. Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with HIV. Even after the diagnosis I failed to do anything about any of it.

I lived like this for 10 years, seeing things and knowing things that should have raised some red flag in my mind. Even when I was pregnant with our first child, I found out I had an STD, and I still looked past it.  My husband even admitted that he knew he was HIV positive and knowingly gave it to me, along with several other things from his past that I did not know, but now I knew the truth about everything.

How did I not see all of the signs and red flags? What kept me from making a sound decision? Why would I continue to let these things go on and turn a blind eye? Was it my past? This is when I made the actual connection. The abuse in my childhood and adulthood had an effect on my HIV risk-taking behaviors. I was unable to see the signs because my complex traumatic experiences affected my ability to develop healthy relationships. My physical health, emotional response, behavior, cognition, and self-concept and future orientation were also greatly affected.

I shut down entirely when I was faced with stressful situations, and became unresponsive and detached. I had difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing my emotions, and was unable to voice my feelings. I internalized stress reactions and became depressed because I remained emotionally numbed to threats in my environment. This caused me to be vulnerable and victimized over and over again. I continued to engage in the high-risk behavior of having unsafe sex with individuals that I knew were harmful to me. I had lost the ability to think clearly, reason, and problem solve and then act accordingly. I did feel shame and guilt, and had low self-esteem and a poor self-image.  Even though I didn’t trust my relationship with him, I felt powerless to change the circumstances. I felt incompetent as a woman, and I felt like I was destined to face negative situations for the rest of my life. I was damaged and hopeless, and pretty much operating in survivor mode.  All of these complex traumatic effects are directly linked to me ultimately being diagnosed with HIV.

So where do I go from here? First, I need to understand that trauma affects others in the same way it affected me. What people don’t know is that my husband faced similar traumatic childhood experiences, which affected his risky behaviors too. Just like me, he had limited ability to develop healthy relationships and make good life decisions. Can I judge him for his faults? Do I leave and abandon him when he has been struggling with the same issues I have? Can people change?

These are questions that many people have asked me, and I am not sure I have that answer. I think we all have faced a different struggle and we all heal differently. We each need to figure out what that answer is for ourselves because only we know how to move forward and make that change. Both my husband and I are just starting this journey of recovery, but it IS only the beginning. The one thing I do know is that CHANGE is possible, even if the transformation process seems impossible.

More Resources

Information on Trauma and Women with HIV

PWN-USA Congratulates UCSF Women’s Health Clinic on Landmark Study of Women, Trauma and HIV Disclosure
Healing Trauma and Ending Violence Against Women Are Crucial for Improving HIV Health Outcomes: Moving From Recommendations to Action – Fact Sheet (PDF)