PWN-USA releases 2014-2016 Strategic Plan
Every day, PWN-USA inspires, informs and mobilizes women living with HIV to advocate for changes that improve our lives and uphold our rights. In 2013, we went through an extensive strategic planning process and listened to hundreds of stakeholders. Over 200 women living with HIV contributed to our newly launched vision, values, and goals. Check out our 2014-2016 strategic plan by clicking on the image below!
PWN-USA Releases Groundbreaking Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for US WLHIV
Despite significant advances in treatment and reduction in infectiousness, people living with HIV continue to face discrimination in the health care system, justice system, public and private sectors; stigmatizing portrayals in the media; and high rates of prejudice among the general population. Laws, policies and practice have not changed to keep up with current science; many laws remain on the books from the early days of the epidemic when understanding of HIV transmission routes was scarce.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), an expansive topic which lends itself to a plethora of exploratory subject areas related to desires, behaviors and perceptions.
In many ways this topic is the narrative to women’s lives; it encompasses puberty and sexual development, identity, body image, and self-esteem, romantic and sexual desires and relationships, reproductive health, fertility desires, and life during and after menopause. Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights go beyond just individual experiences, and are grounded in a structural context. Specifically, SRHR are shaped by and simultaneously define cultural norms and expectations, governing laws and policy, and social constructs.
To better understand the ways in which women living with HIV experience their own sexuality, relationships, and reproductive desires and intentions, within this cultural, political and social context, Positive Women’s Network – United States of America, a national membership body of women living with HIV, created a research and analysis project designed and implemented entirely by women living with HIV. UNSPOKEN: Sexuality, Romance, and Reproductive Freedom for Women Living with HIV in the United States articulates the findings of that project and details recommendations for further research, advocacy, and action.
This framework document – written, researched, and edited entirely by women living with HIV – outlines a review of existing policies that may impact the SRHR of women living with HIV; a review of the literature; and findings from a national survey conducted among HIV-positive women in the US during the summer of 2013. The authors of UNSPOKEN believe that understanding the actual lived experiences of sexual and reproductive rights for women living with HIV, in context, offers tremendous opportunity to increase engagement in care, to achieve better individual and public health, and, most importantly, to ensure that women living with HIV are afforded the opportunity to live a life of dignity, free of stigma, discrimination, and violence.
PWN-USA Survey Finds Violations of Sexual and Reproductive Rights of US WLHIV
This summer, as part of a project to assess the state of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women living with HIV in the US, PWN-USA launched a national survey. The survey was taken by nearly 200 women living with HIV.
Among the findings from the survey:
- Over 50% of US women living with HIV in care have not been counseled on viral suppression as an HIV prevention strategy
- Women living with HIV face high levels of internalized stigma, which negatively impacts self-perception, enjoyment of sex, and intimate partnerships, and may lead to abuse
- 69% of respondents had experienced nonconsensual sex and 72% had experienced intimate partner violence
- Women living with HIV are resilient and resourceful, utilizing diverse strategies to improve health, perceptions of body image, and increase agency in sexual and romantic decision-making
PWN-USA will release a full report next week documenting findings from a policy scan, a review of available literature, and analysis from the survey. The report, UNSPOKEN: Sexuality, Romance, and Reproductive Freedom for Women Living with HIV in the United States was written, researched, edited, analyzed and produced entirely by women living with HIV.
Today PWN-USA released a sneak preview with rich findings from the survey, analysis, and discussion! Read the survey findings and executive summary here, and stay tuned for the full report, coming next week.
In addition, authors of the report will host a special 90-minute webinar on Tuesday, December 3rd at 12:30 PT/3:30 ET to present report findings and answer questions.
The webinar will feature presentations by:
Cristina Jade Pena
To register for the December 3rd webinar, please click here
PWN-USA is hiring !!!
October 9, 2013, Oakland, CA — PWN-USA is hiring a Communications Director, a Training and Leadership Development Director, and a Regional Organizing Coordinator. For a description of the positions and details on how to apply, click here.
PWN-USA Applauds Release of White House Recommendations to Address HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities
September 6, 2013, New Orleans, LA — Today, the Interagency Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities released an important set of federal policy recommendations to address the health and rights of women living with HIV, especially women affected by violence.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the first US domestic HIV strategy, failed to articulate or address intersections between violence, trauma and HIV and researchers and policymakers initially demonstrated skepticism that such a link existed. However, evidence clearly shows that women living with HIV in the US are disproportionately impacted by childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and other forms of abuse, before and after diagnosis. Women living with HIV may face challenges leaving abusive relationships for a variety of reasons.
In addition, data demonstrates that women living with HIV are likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its consequent negative health outcomes.
Following outcry from advocates and ongoing pressure from women-focused groups, including the 30 for 30 Campaign, President Obama formed this Working Group to prioritize a response to intimate partner violence (IPV) in the context of HIV “because of its high overall prevalence among women and girls, especially women living with HIV.” Violence and trauma negatively impact physical and mental health, complicate access to and retention in medical care, and have a detrimental effect on overall quality of life. Read more…
PWN-USA Goes to the U.S. Conference on AIDS!
We are getting ready for the 2013 US Conference on AIDS and will be presenting, speaking, and organizing a number of sessions. We look forward to seeing you all there! For a listing of sessions featuring PWNers, please click here.
August 19, 2013: Tell PWN-USA About Your Love Life!
Positive Women’s Network – USA is conducting a community-based research project to better understand the romantic and sexual lives of US women living with HIV, and how HIV-positive women, including transgender women, perceive ourselves with regard to sex and relationships.
We understand the complicated impact an HIV diagnosis can have on a woman’s identity as a sexual or reproductive being and as a partner or potential partner, and that this may have consequences for many other aspects of her life.
We believe that understanding HIV-positive women’s lives, including our intimate lives, our experiences of and attitudes towards our body, and the ways we construct relationships – whether we are single, married, or partnered, is critical to much of the advocacy we take on.
To better grasp the complexity of these issues, and their implications for health care access, service delivery, new prevention technologies, and more, PWN-USA has designed a survey for US-based HIV-positive women, including transgender women. This survey was created by a team of 10 diverse women living with HIV. Read more…
July 1, 2013: PWN-USA Launches 2013 Strategic Planning Process
Dear community – As you may know, in early 2013 the Positive Women’s Network – USA transitioned to become an independent and autonomous organization, governed entirely by women living with HIV and accountable to our national constituency of HIV-positive women.
At this time, we are undertaking a strategic planning process to revisit our mission and core strategies, so we can be more effective in our work to ensure that HIV-positive women’s realities, needs and desires, as well as PWN-USA’s Core Values, are well reflected throughout our organizational structure, advocacy agenda, and strategic engagement.
Our highest priority is to hear from women living with HIV in the United States, including transwomen. We will be utilizing separate processes to gather input from external stakeholders, including partner and allied organizations.
For now, we are launching a survey designed to enable HIV-positive women to provide PWN-USA with important input during our strategic planning process.
The survey will take no more than 20-30 minutes to complete. This survey is open to all women living with HIV and you can access it at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KDH9RFQ
Please take the survey, and feel free to share this survey link with other HIV-positive women who may be interested in participating: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KDH9RFQ
We appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey, and your honest input is important to us. All responses are confidential.
We will also be hosting a teleconference listening session for PWN-USA members to participate in our strategic planning process by providing input on PWN-USA’s work. That listening session will take place Thursday, July 18th at 1pm PT/2pm MT/3pm CT/4pm ET. All women living with HIV are welcome to join. If you are interested in participating in the teleconference listening session or helping to host a group of HIV-positive women to call in, please send an email to positivewomensnetworkusa(at)gmail.com to receive call info.
An Open Letter to Tyler Perry
Please sign the petition at:
Dear Mr. Perry,
We write as people living with HIV and their allies to express our deep disappointment with your latest film, Temptation. This disappointment is made all the greater because you have done much that can be applauded. Audiences see your plays and films not simply as entertainment, but as opportunities for inspiration, spiritual healing, and unity.
In Temptation, however, you have done a great disservice to people with HIV, and particularly to the African American community, which, as you know, is disproportionately affected by HIV.
As you may be aware, one of the greatest barriers to addressing the HIV epidemic is the high level of stigma and misinformation attached to this simple virus. Stigma prevents people from getting tested for HIV, from protecting themselves during sex, from accessing care when they test positive, and from disclosing their HIV status to family, friends, and sexual partners. Myths and outdated perceptions about how HIV is transmitted and the implications of an HIV diagnosis have resulted in discriminatory treatment towards, and violence against, people living with HIV.
Unfortunately, Temptation can only serve to perpetuate stigma. Your film depicts people with HIV as untouchable and unlovable, doomed to a lifetime of loneliness, and unable to tell their own stories. It implies that men with HIV are sexually irresponsible and predatory. And the final image – that of a woman who has been infected with HIV due to an extramarital affair walking away alone and unhealthy – sends the message that HIV is a punishment for immoral behavior.
Mr. Perry, as a leader in the African American community, is this really the message you want to send in 2013, over three decades into this epidemic? Your impact on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in the community is not insignificant. And if you portray people with HIV as sinful, secretive monsters, unworthy of love and incapable of reproduction, what incentive do people have to learn their HIV status or for people with HIV to disclose their status?
HIV is not something that “guilty” people get. It is not a punishment for cheating, lying, using drugs or alcohol, having more than one partner, or not asking the right questions. It is a virus whose transmission is fueled by poverty, ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, fear, violence, and many other factors – not by people with HIV. In fact, studies show that the overwhelming majority of people with HIV fiercely protect their partners once they know their HIV status. Many of us are in long-term relationships with HIV-negative partners. And yes, we even have children!
We call on you to undo the damage that your film has undoubtedly already caused. We ask you to meet with people living with HIV and hear our stories. We know that you are deeply committed to the communities that have supported your work and we ask that you make a public statement and consult with us to develop storylines that will help end HIV stigma so we can get to the real business of ending this epidemic, together.
Your response is greatly appreciated and we look forward to hearing from you in the very near future. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
We await your response.
A Cause Worth Fighting For
aChurch4Me Metropolitan Community Church
ACT-UP New York
AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA)
AIDS Action Baltimore
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
The Afiya Center for HIV Prevention and Sexual Reproductive Justice
BABES Network – YWCA
Black AIDS Institute
Bond Community Health Center/MAACA INC
Bronx AIDS Services
Brothers Reaching Others, Inc.
Cascade AIDS Project
Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of New York (CHAIN)
Conscious Contact of New York, Inc.
Detroit Legal Services
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, North America (GNP+ NA)
GRACE of Greater Kansas City
Global Justice Institute, MCC
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA)
International Foundation for Alternative Research on AIDS
The LaStraw, Inc.
Let’s Talk About It
Living Faith Convenant Church
Louisiana Latino Health Coalition for HIV/AIDS Awareness
McLean county AIDS Task Force
Men & Women In Prison Ministries
Metropolitan Community Churches
Miami Valley Positives for Positives
National HIV/AIDS Disability Project
National Minority AIDS Council
Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services
People of Color Against AIDS Network
Positively Aware/Test Positive Aware Network
Positive Iowans Taking Charge (PITCH)
Positive Voices of Philadelphia, Inc
Positive Women’s Network – USA
Positive Women’s Network – Philadelphia
Positive Women’s Network – Colorado
Positive Women’s Network – Detroit
Positively U, Inc.
Rural Women’s Health Project
Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS Research and Treatment (SMART) University
Spokane AIDS Network
SW Boulevard Family Health Care Services of Greater KC
Twin States Network
UMC West conference AIDS TASK FORCE
Unity Fellowship of Christ NYC
Unity Fellowship Church NYC
U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus
The Well Project
Women’s Health and Justice Initiative
The Women’s HIV Program at the University of California, San Francisco
Women With a Vision, Inc
Yellowstone AIDS Project
Please sign on at:
This Mother’s Day, the Positive Women’s Network – USA reclaims and redefines motherhood from our perspective.
As a network for all women living with HIV, including transgender women, we are:
- Women who have been discouraged, shamed, and forbidden from having children.
- Women whose health, well-being and desires have been seen as secondary to those of others – including but not limited to our partners, fetuses, and children.
- Women who rely on the support of our doctors, partners, healthcare systems, and each other to safely conceive and deliver a healthy baby.
- Women who were diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy.
- Women who gave up the dream of motherhood after our diagnosis.
- Queer-identified women who may be shamed for having children.
- Women who fight for our rights to parent and raise our children.
- Women who want to have children, but cannot afford assisted reproductive technology.
- Women who have grown into adulthood and our sexual and reproductive lives with an HIV diagnosis.
- Women who choose and create our own families.
- Women who are successfully parenting our HIV-positive and HIV-negative children.
- Women who nurture and foster the growth of young people in our lives, regardless of whether we are biologic mothers.
- Women who fight for justice for the next generation.
Our experiences are diverse. Yet, at the end of the day we are proud to hold our communities and families together.
Stand with us. Show your support for HIV-positive women on Mother’s Day by signing your name on our Mother’s Day message wall.
Tyler Perry’s “Temptation” Sentences People Living with HIV to a Lifetime of Stigma and Isolation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:
Waheedah Shabazz-El, Founding Member, firstname.lastname@example.org, (267) 231-2647
Sonia Rastogi, Communications Director, email@example.com, (408) 306-6805
April 16, 2013, New York, NY – “Tyler Perry’s Temptation left me emotionally pained, angry and disappointed. Mr. Perry, a brilliant film maker, missed a genuine opportunity for honest and accurate community education around HIV. Instead, Temptation perpetuated HIV sensationalism and stigma. It demonized people living with HIV as irresponsible and portrayed women who acquire HIV as an undesirable, reclusive, sub-species, destined to live out their lives in suffering commented Waheedah Shabazz-El, a woman living with HIV.
Two weekends and $212.7 million later, Tyler Perry’s film Temptation perpetuates the War on Women, fuels stigma and discrimination towards people of color and people living with HIV, and condones the belief that people living with HIV are sinners, who deserve punishment. Read more here.
PWN-USA Congratulates our Inaugural Board of Directors
Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) congratulates our inaugural Board of Directors and elected Officers.
PWN-USA’s Board members bring decades of diverse experience working on HIV and intersectional issues including sexual and reproductive health, criminal justice, and housing rights. From social work, law, public speaking and training, and community organizing to founding organizations, and providing direct services, PWN-USA’s Board has a broad range of expertise. PWN-USA’s Board members are active in local, national and global social justice communities.
All are women living with HIV. Read more...
Take Action! Kansas Wants to Quarantine People with HIV
It’s not a joke.
Today and tomorrow the Kansas Legislature will consider a bill that would expand the authority of state and local health officials to impose isolation or quarantine on people living with HIV and other infectious diseases. But quarantine statutes are designed for dangerous diseases spread through casual contact, thus presenting a danger to overall public health.
HIV is not transmitted by casual contact, and it makes no sense that people living with HIV must be quarantined or isolated for public health reasons. We need you to contact Kansas legislators today. Read more…
The Real Cost of Shame
March 10th marked National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and March 8th marked International Women’s Day. We at the Positive Women’s Network USA (PWN-USA) are filled with the simultaneous promise of hope and sadness at lost opportunities. Stigma related to HIV and sexuality, criminalization of people and communities impacted by HIV, and internalized shame by people living with HIV and women of color perpetuated by such public health campaigns and the media continue to disenfranchise many of the people who most need life-saving care and treatment. Read more…
Coalition of U.S. Women’s Health and HIV Advocates Call for Accelerated US Government Plan for Demonstrating Feasibility of PrEP for Women
VOICE Results Underscore Need for Clear, US-Based PrEP Implementation Agenda
Atlanta, March 4, 2013 – The U.S. Women and PrEP Working Group, a coalition of more than 50 women from leading AIDS and women’s health organizations, today called on US government agencies to coordinate a national agenda that will quickly and accurately answer questions about how the antiretroviral (ARV) drug Truvada can best be made available as an HIV prevention option for women at risk of HIV infection.
The Working Group called for a US federal coordinating group to be convened with the goal of ensuring that plans and funds are in place for demonstration projects that will answer key questions about the use of daily tenofovir/emtricitibine (TDF/FTC, brand name Truvada) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among women in the United States, as well as plans for educational campaigns for women, their partners and health care providers as PrEP is rolled out. Read more here.
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Check out our Upcoming Events page and see what PWNers all around the country are up to for this years NWGHAAD! From female condom demos to film screening to panel discussions on PrEP. From Ohio to Colorado to Louisiana and California. PWNers and allies are shifting the discussion on women and HIV!
PWN-USA in the Media: Feminism Should Be Inclusive and Flexible, NY Times February 18, 2013
By Dani McClain, a Nation Institute fellow reporting on reproductive health and sexuality
To understand where feminism is headed, look to today’s reproductive justice movement. Check out the Mother’s Day cards celebrating nontraditional families that took the Internet by storm last year. Talk to the network of H.I.V.-positive women determined to shape the policies that affect them. Efforts like these are winning hearts and minds because they acknowledge what many of us have long known: An individual’s ability to chart her own course is intimately tied to what’s happening in her family and community. Read more.
This Valentine’s Day, Show Your Love! End Violence Against Women & Girls. PWN-USA Stands with One Billion Rising.
Contact: Sonia Rastogi, PWN-USA Communications Coordinator
408.306.6805 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb. 14, 2013
This Valentine’s Day, Positive Women’s Network – United States of America (PWN-USA) shows our love for women by participating in One Billion Rising’s day of action to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
PWN-USA Colorado Regional Coordinator Barb Cardell, who with her husband is participating in Boulder’s One Billion Rising event tonight says, “Tom and I are rising today to celebrate our love and life together. Because love should never be pain, disrespect, or violence.” Read more.
PWN-USA Announces the Next Chapter in our Development as an Independent Organization
Feb. 6, 2013
Inspired by global networks of women living with HIV and supported by leaders in the United States, Positive Women’s Network (PWN) was officially founded by 28 diverse women living with HIV in June of 2008. Its purpose was to create a unified voice and building collective power for HIV-positive women across the United States. When PWN was founded it was with the understanding and goal that one day it would transition from WORLD, an organization which provided a structural umbrella for U.S. Positive Women’s Network to establish itself as an independent organization, in its own right.
That day has come. PWN founding members, Steering Committee members, Advisory Group members and our regional leaders have decided to embark on a new path, a fresh start, in order to fulfill our original mission, advance HIV-positive women’s autonomy, and strengthen our accountability to our national constituency. Our fresh start includes a new name, logo and website, and the same inspiration and vision that has always guided us.
Effective immediately, our name is Positive Women’s Network of the United States of America (PWN-USA).
As PWN-USA, we will continue to represent and advocate for women living with HIV in the United States and remain a part of the national and global People Living with HIV (PLHIV) movement. While we have collectively accomplished much over the last several years, we hold the same values and mission that inspired us to join forces on behalf of women living with HIV in 2008.
PWN’s leadership remains privileged to serve, lead and represent HIV-positive women in the U.S. We rely on the collective strength of our members and allies to support us as we start a new chapter in the development of PWN-USA. We will be issuing a call for all HIV-positive women across the nation to provide input on our new logo, the development of our new PWN-USA website and our 2013-2014 strategic planning process. We encourage you to join us. We can be reached at positivewomensnetworkUSA@gmail.com.
Thank you in advance for your continued support, guidance, and mentorship.
In sisterhood and solidarity,
Jane P. Fowler
Andrea L’amour Harrington
Linda H. Scruggs
PWN-USA Statement on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Updated: Positive Women’s Network – United States of America Congratulates the PACHA for passing Criminalization Resolution
February 7, 2013
In observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) urges the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) to pass resolution condemning HIV criminalization laws and end the pipeline of unjust incarceration of Black men and women living with HIV in the United States
February 7, 2013 — Washington, DC Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a fact sheet entitled “HIV and AIDS among African Americans.” This fact sheet indicates that Black Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV and to suffer worse health outcomes once infected. According to the CDC, young Black American gay men “now account for more new HIV infections than any other (population) group.” Furthermore, Black American women, despite a slight decline in new HIV infections, continue to “be more affected by HIV than women of any other race or ethnicity.” Read more.
A Holiday Letter
Jan. 2 2013
As 2012 ends and 2013 begins, we are thankful for the incredible blessings and abundance this past year has brought.
In 2012, the U.S. Positive Women’s Network was involved in important efforts, including serving as a community partner for the International AIDS Conference, hosting a 3-day leadership summit for 50 powerful HIV-positive women in the South, witnessing the White House establish a federal interagency work group on the intersection of Women, HIV and Violence and strengthening our regional work in coalition and sisterhood. Read more.
World AIDS Day: Getting to Zero for Women Means Ending Violence Against Women!
Video: Melissa Harris-Perry Show on World AIDS Day with PWNer Sonia Rastogi
Click here to watch the video!
We Were Never Meant to Survive: Violence in the Lives of HIV-Positive Women in South Africa. Positive Women’s Network in South Africa collaborated to create this amazing report as part of the 1 in 9 campaign, a campaign focused on upholding the sexual rights of women and combating violence against women.
In the Media:
Domestic Violence Doubles Risk of Death for HIV-Positive Women by Laura Whitehorn. “Episodes of domestic violence dramatically raises the short-term risk of death for women living with or at risk of contracting HIV, according to research announced on Wednesday, July 25, at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS2012) in Washington, DC. The data contribute to a growing body of information on the higher risks of infection, illness and death among women in the United States.” Read more.
Vulnerability and empowerment: At the International AIDS Conference, an examination of sexual abuse and violence against women — and men. “A history of recent abuse increases the risk of death by 40% in HIV-positive women, U.S. researchers [with the Women's Interagency HIV Study] reported at the 19th International AIDS Conference, held in Washington, D.C. in July.” Read more.
Trauma Drives HIV Epidemic in Women. “Physical violence, sexual abuse and other forms of childhood and adult trauma are major factors fueling hte epidemic of HIV/AIDS among American women. Scientists have known for years that traumatized women are at greater risk of becoming infected. Now, two new studies from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Harvard Medical School demonstrate that a high rate of trauma among women already infected with HIV also plays a role in the epidemic.” Read more.