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


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.


Reproductive Rights Must Be Part of Our Battle

Positive Women’s Network – USA Statement on
World AIDS Day 2015

Dec 1, 2015 – Just four days ago, an atrocious act of terror was perpetrated against Planned Parenthood, an essential source of healthcare for working and low-income women, men and young people in the US. As women living with HIV who have benefited from the healthcare and education services provided by Planned Parenthood, we condemn this brutal violence. We grieve for the loved ones of Jennifer Markosky, Ke’Arre Stewart and Garrett Swasey. And we mourn the devastation of women’s sense of safety, bodily autonomy, and threats to well-being for healthcare providers committed to delivering woman-centered care.

As women living with HIV, many of us have used and still depend on the vital health care services Planned Parenthood provides, including access to HIV testing, screening for sexually transmitted infections, pap smears, and the means to determine if, when and how we have children. We will continue to fight for these services.

Make no mistake. Attacks on Planned Parenthood are assaults on women’s rights to health, dignity, and self-determination.

While brutal violence like the recent incident in Colorado is typically met with condemnation by leaders of all political stripes, a large number of elected officials have waged a relentless war on Planned Parenthood specifically and women’s health more generally in recent years. The growing movement to deny essential healthcare to working and low-income women—accompanied by simultaneous and persistent efforts to decimate programs critical for working and low-income families – including food stamps, Medicaid, and paid parental leave — marks a deep disdain for women. These leaders would not only deny us the right to make decisions about whether, when and under which circumstances to have children – they also seek to deny the support that makes having and sustaining families a feasible reality.

A new study shows that states with higher funding for social services have much lower rates of HIV incidence and of AIDS deaths—signaling that, if the U.S. is serious about “getting to zero,” we have to be willing to challenge the reactionary idea that the working classes and the poor fare better when forced to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

We must also be willing to challenge the rhetoric espoused by those who call themselves “pro-life” while tacitly or explicitly encouraging hatred, dehumanization of women, and violence. As women living with HIV, we know all too well the power of language to affirm or to dehumanize; to show respect or to stigmatize and criminalize. Hostility toward sex education, sexuality and reproductive rights is detrimental to us all—yet is evidenced by the fact that our government released a National HIV/AIDS Strategy in which the word “reproductive” does not even appear.

Women living with HIV—like all women—deserve access to affordable healthcare including the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive services–and yes, abortion and contraception services–that meet all of our health and family planning needs. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the sexual and reproductive needs and desires of women living with HIV have been ignored and dismissed by those in power. On this World AIDS Day 2015, we must take a stand to assert that women with HIV deserve not only life-saving medications, but the right to self-determination—and the full spectrum of healthcare services and options to make that right a reality.

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!

Everything You Need to Know About SPEAK UP!

Lepena Reid, Janet Kitchen and Rose Todd, South Florida

SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV is just one week away! Here’s everything you need to know, whether you’re coming to the Summit or following the happenings there from afar:

PWN-USA SPEAK UP! Summit Orientation Webinar – slideshow and voice recording of a helpful presentation on the ins and outs of the Summit (here’s a PDF of just the slides from the webinar)

SPEAK UP! Summit Official Website – the place to go for the full program, information on travel, a list of our generous sponsors, and much more!

“I’m Going to SPEAK UP! Because …” – videos and images from SPEAK UP! Summit participants about why they’re making the trip to Fort Walton Beach

Want to volunteer at SPEAK UP!? Contact Nerissa Irizarry to sign up: 510.698.3811 |

Here’s some background information on the Summit if you want to know more!

Like us on Facebook and follow our Twitter account and the hashtag #PWNSpeaks for up-to-the-minute updates from the Summit!

For those who are coming to SPEAK UP!:

SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIVWHAT DO I BRING??

  • Dress – Summit dress code is casual to business casual for hot weather. Bring your best pj’s because you will be sharing a room and we are planning a pajama party! Other suggestions:
  • Beach towels
  • Enough Meds – couple extra days supply just in case
  • Medical insurance card
  • Cellphone charger if you have your cell
  • Laptop and charger if you need one
  • State-issued ID
  • Sunscreen and hat for the sun, bathing suit if you plan to get in pool or ocean
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Extra business cards if you have them for networking
  • $30, in cash or on your debit card, to present at check-in for hotel incidentals (will be refunded)

Upon arrival at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort:

  • 2 pm: Summit registration
    Fill out a few forms, get your program & conference bag!
  • 3 pm: Hotel check-in
    You will be assigned a shared, double room with mini-fridge & microwave
  • 5 pm: Summit opening session and dinner begins

Florida, here we come!!!

Looks like we made it!
Looks like we made it!

“I’m Going to SPEAK UP! Because …”: Why Women Leaders Are Attending PWN-USA’s Summit (Videos)

In just one short month, 200 women living with HIV from every region and corner of the United States will gather in Fort Walton Beach, FL, for SPEAK UP! A National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV.

Lepena Reid, Janet Kitchen and Rose Todd, South Florida

We will build leadership skills, address critical policy, advocacy and research issues relevant to women’s lives – and foster a growing national community among women living with HIV.

To get to Fort Walton Beach, women are organizing vans, fundraising for flights, borrowing frequent flyer miles. They’re going on behalf of supporting organizations. They’re selling sweets and jewelry. They’re inviting their pastors and pharmacists and employers and fellow community members to support their work.

Why are so many women so passionate about attending this herstoric gathering? View the videos below to find out. Help make SPEAK UP! a reality for even more women by supporting the Summit!


I’m Going to the SPEAK UP! Summit Because …

Teresa Sullivan, Pennsylvania


Joyce Belton, South Carolina


Maria T. Mejia, Florida


LaDonna Boyens, Pennsylvania


Jetta, Marlena, Jeanetta and Susan, South Carolina


Nancy Asha Molock, Pennsylvania

Show Your Love! Invest in Women’s Leadership Today!

Dear Friend,

Far too often, women living with HIV are talked about, instead of talked to, at the tables where decisions are made about our lives.

PWN-USA’s mission is to shift that balance: to prepare and involve all women living with HIV, in all our diversity, including gender identity and sexual expression, to be at those decision-making tables.

This fall, we’ll take a huge step towards living that mission by hosting a national leadership summit for women with HIV. Can you help us take this step?

woman under a sign reading "welcome womyn leaders"In March 2012, Positive Women’s Network – USA held our first-ever Summit to build advocacy skills and leadership capacity among 50 women living with HIV from the U.S. South. Following the Summit, participants reported they were better prepared to engage in policy discussions about topics ranging from HIV criminalization to Affordable Care Act implementation.  Over a third of Summit attendees went on to attend the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. For most, it was their first-ever International AIDS Conference.

This year, Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA) is building on that success.  We are thrilled to announce SPEAK UP! A National Summit for Women Living with HIV! 200 women living with HIV from across the United States will gather in Fort Walton Beach, FL, from September 17-19, 2014. We invite you to help make this historic event a reality.

Positive Women’s Network – USA believes that investing in our own leadership is important, and that building advocacy capacity in our communities is critical to achieving policies that uphold women’s rights. Participants will cover and arrange their own travel expenses to the Summit; but we are committed to making the Summit accessible to women, regardless of income level. Can you take part in expanding the leadership circle of women living with HIV?

pwn-usa leaders joyfully toting event supplies$60,000 is what it will take to provide food, lodging, and the best quality content for 200 women with HIV at the Summit. Today, we are calling on members, supporters, allies and change-makers like you to join us in raising part of that goal: $10,000 in individual donations by Mother’s Day! Your donation toward that goal will be doubled through a matching grant! 

During the Summit, women living with HIV will build leadership skills, discuss timely policy, legal and research trends relevant to women’s lives, and strategize to support organizing and advocacy at a federal and state level. Read on to find out how you can support the small parts that comprise this huge vision — and remember, your gift will be doubled.

We’ll train advocates in community organizing, maximizing media opportunities, understanding data and surveillance, using a human rights analysis, research advocacy, advocating for Medicaid expansion, ending HIV criminalization, talking to legislators, and more! Each participant will receive valuable materials to add to her advocacy library to support her work.

hand-drawn workshop learning tools$20 secures that packet of materials for one attendee

$40 funds a participant’s meals for one day of the Summit

$75 supports a registration scholarship for one leader

$150 pays for a leader’s lodging for the entire duration of the Summit

$500 helps us provide childcare, so that attendees with young families can be at the table

$750 will support a day’s audiovisual costs, to make Speak Up! A National Summit for Women Living with HIV a rich multimedia learning experience

Giving any of the amounts above is a significant contribution to women’s leadership! Show your love for women with HIV by taking a bold step with us toward our goal: $10,000 in matched donations by PWN-USA’s birthday, June 17! 

Sponsorships are also available.  Sponsors will be acknowledged on program materials and on PWN-USA’s website — and these gifts will also be doubled! Details follow:

$5,000 Sister Circle

  • Name and logo will be included in Summit program
  • Name and logo will be included on Summit webpage
  • Will be acknowledged during Summit
  • Opportunity to share materials on a table or in resources folder
  • Will be acknowledged in Summit report

$2,500 Solidarity Circle

  • Name and logo will be included in Summit program
  • Name and logo will be included on Summit webpage
  • Opportunity to share materials on a table or in resources folder

$1,000 Ally Circle

  • Name will be included on Summit webpage
  • Opportunity to share materials on a table or in resources folder

Invest in women leaders living with HIV! Donate online or by mail.

Click this link to donate online toward our matching goal; select the amount you want to donate, and then select “Support for National Summit” from the drop-down menu.

To donate by mail, make checks payable to Movement Strategy Center (memo line: PWN-USA) and send them directly to:

Positive Women’s Network – USA
c/o Movement Strategy Center
436 14th Street, 5th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Thank you for your support!leaders_group

In Sisterhood and Solidarity,
Positive Women’s Network – USA