We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!


Thursday, Sept. 21

ISSUE: It’s now or never. Senate Republicans have just over a week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the devastating Graham-Cassidy proposal is gaining steam, even though it will do exactly what previous repeal bills would have done: strip health care from millions; end protections for pre-existing conditions; allow insurers to refuse coverage for essential health benefits like prescription drugs, hospitalization, lab work, contraceptives, and reproductive health; and decimate Medicaid, on which over 40% of people living with HIV rely to stay healthy. Continue reading “We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

Our Resistance Recess Toolkit Has Lots of Ideas and Resources to Take Action This August Recess!

August 8: We did it! Through people power, we killed the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act! At least for now, and just by one vote. We have lots of work ahead of us.

All members of Congress are home for the August recess. They’ll be in district hosting town halls, public events, and meeting with their constituents. When they come back in September, they’ll be voting on a number of pieces of legislation, as well as the federal budget. The Republican fight to dismantle the social safety net, including health care, funding for Medicaid and food stamps, is not over. Will you take the pledge to be active during #ResistanceRecess to #ProtectOurCare and the #HIVBudget?  

To help you plan your next steps, check out our brand-new, hot-off-the-presses Resistance Recess Toolkit. Use it and share with your friends and fellow activists!

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Shyronn Jones, PWN-USA Policy Fellow, visits GA Sen. David Purdue’s office

PWN-USA Gets Ready to SPEAK UP!

PrintSeptember 19, 2016 – It’s hard to believe, but we’re only about a week away from SPEAK UP! 2016 National Leadership Summit for Women Living with HIV. We’d like to thank our dedicated Summit Planning Committee for their many hours of time and energy spent planning this Summit to be the best yet!

We look forward to welcoming over 250 women living with HIV to Fort Walton Beach next week. Some are seasoned advocates who have long been involved with PWN-USA and who attended SPEAK UP! 2014; for others, this may be the first conference ever, and an introduction to advocacy. We welcome both and everyone in between, regardless of your experience with advocacy.

To help orient participants to the Summit, we have scheduled two special orientation webinars for registered participants for this week! Click on a day/time below to register for that webinar. If you cannot participate in either webinar, a recording will be available on our website by the end of the week.

Tuesday, September 20, 6 PM EDT/5 PM CDT/4 PM MDT/3 PM PDT

Thursday, September 22, 12 PM EDT/11 AM CDT/10 AM MDT/9 AM PDT

cover-art-final-2We also have the complete program available right here on our website now! Check it out here.

We have put together some travel tips for you as well! Questions about what you should bring? What your registration fee does and doesn’t cover? Find answers here.

We would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and expectations as you get ready for the Summit and throughout the Summit! Write a blog for us! Get started here.

We look forward to seeing you next week!



PWN-USA Colorado Makes Critical Progress Toward HIV Criminalization Reform

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 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

PWN-USA Members Represent on World AIDS Day 2015!

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PWN-USA members were on the move this World AIDS Day, representing at events from coast to coast! (Don’t see your event and/or photos here? Please contact Jennie at jsmithcamejo@pwn-usa.org with relevant info and/or photos and she will add them!)

PWN-USA New York City–our newest affiliated regional chapter!–participated in the Brooklyn “Saving Our Homes, Saving Our Lives” charity awards benefit to raise awareness of the challenges facing low-income and formerly homeless people living with HIV, as well as in a World AIDS Day event at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater organized to show support for Governor Cuomo’s plan to end AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.

PWN-USA South Carolina members attended a screening of the film Wilhemina’s War at the Nickelodeon Theater in Columbia, SC, sponsored by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. PWNer Stacy Jennings also starred in a play, “Sex HIS Way,” with a plot line about women and HIV.

PWN-USA Colorado member and Board Chair Barb Cardell was quite busy on and before World AIDS Day, shuttling from one event to another, speaking at a concert hosted by the Boulder County AIDS Project, a breakfast in Fort Collins for the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, a lunch in Denver for the Colorado AIDS Project, and a World AIDS Day candlelight vigil and community education event hosted by the Pueblo County Health Center. (She somehow also found time to be interviewed for this awesome article by former PWN-USA Communications Director Olivia Ford for thebody.com.)

PWN-USA member Lepena Reid in Florida rivaled Barb for being in the most places in a single day, assisting the Florida Department of Health in testing over 190 people on December 1, representing PWN-USA at a historical black church in Tampa alongside students from University of South Florida, Pastors on Patrol, local ASOs, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Purple Up for Domestic Violence, Delta Sigma sorority; and at a dedication of the AIDS Memorial Park in Tampa with the mayor, the AIDS Institute, the Department of Health, other ASOs and government officials. (See photos in slideshow above.)

PWN-USA Philly, not to be outdone, represented PWN at a World AIDS Day event at Temple University, addressing the gathering on the subject of HIV criminalization (see photo in slideshow above).

In San Francisco, PWN-USA Bay Area members attended the amfAR Cure Summit at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), where researchers explained progress toward a cure for HIV that will be furthered with a $20 million grant just received from amfAR, bringing attention to populations (such as women) too often left out of clinical trials.

In North Carolina, PWN-USA Strategic Communications Action Team member Alicia Diggs participated in a press conference with the North Carolina AIDS Action Network in Durham (see photo in slideshow above).

PWN-USA Louisiana member Rachel Moats shared her story in an article that came out on December 1 in Women’s Health magazine to fight stigma.

PWN-USA Georgia members were very active in fighting stigma across the state, representing at a World AIDS Day event at Morehouse College in Atlanta and at another at the Betterway Foundation in Columbus, GA. (See photos in slideshow above.) Members and allies participated in a special event in honor of World AIDS Day at Shy Temple Memorial Church in Atlanta on December 4, including a writing workshop led by author Khafre Kujichagulia, a candlelight vigil and a balloon release (see photos in slideshow above). One of the chapter’s newest members, Danielle Atkins (a.k.a. Ghetto Rose) even performed in a World AIDS Day commemoration event at Tavernpointe Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta. And on December 1, a breathtakingly beautiful documentary about another new PWN-USA Georgia member, Patricia Semiens, was released. Watch it here and share widely!

#HIVisNOTaCrime in Texas or Anywhere: Urgent Help Request

This piece is adapted from a version originally posted on Advocacy Without Borders’ blog.
I have written before about HIV criminalization, here and here. Most recently, though, when I have written about it I have shared how it is currently affecting my state, Texas and I have also shared about a collaborative call where the problem and an action plan was discussed. Now I am talking about it again. Because what many of us consider our worst nightmare has come to pass.

Senate Bill 779 has been moved out of the Texas State Affairs Committee and assigned to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.  With only two weeks left in the state legislative period – which will not occur again until 2017. That is NOT good news…as I have written previously:

“…the state of Texas is on the verge of taking a gigantic leap backward. There is a state bill, Senate Bill 779, that proposes to amend the state Health  and Safety Code to allow for HIV test results (which are currently confidential) to be subpoenaed during grand jury proceedings –  and for a defendant’s medical records to be accessed without their consent to establish guilt/innocence and also potentially to be used to determine sentencing. Essentially, this bill proposes to criminalize having HIV.”

We MUST oppose this. And we need YOUR help, whether you 
have HIV or not! This is a human rights issue. We need YOU to
stand with us, PLEASE!!!
The following text of the post derived in its entirety from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition (thank you, Venita!); republishing here for easier sharing. Please help now!!!
Senate Bill 779 Talking Points
“Senate Bill 779, introduced by Sen Joan Huffman, would remove the confidential nature of HIV test results and allow them to be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.  SB 779 is targeted solely at people living with HIV as stated by the Sen. Huffman in the Senate State Affairs Committee when the bill was introducedSB 779 was passed by the Senate and has now been assigned to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.  We need your help defeating this bill! Please call and email the members of the committee listed below. We also need folks willing to travel to Austin to testify against this harmful bill in the next two weeks. 

SB 779 is bad for the estimated 76,000 Texans living with HIV and for Texas for the following reasons:
1. Using HIV test results in any criminal prosecution makes it appear that HIV is the crime rather than the actual crime being investigated. We need public health solutions to fight HIV and not criminal prosecutions.
2. Criminalizing people because they are HIV positive continues to perpetuate fear, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.  Texas does not have an HIV specific criminal statute. Prosecutors should charge the actual crime and not the health status!
3. Treating a medical condition as evidence of a crime is at direct odds with public health campaigns to get as many people as possible tested and, if HIV positive, into treatment. Tests results can’t be used against you if you don’t get tested. 
4. There is no evidence that HIV related prosecutions increase disclosure, reduce the spread of HIV or deter the rare acts of intentional transmission.
5. Laws should reinforce science-based public health messages.  SB 779 could also be applied against persons charged with crimes involving spitting and biting. There is simply no need to prosecute someone for attempting to transmit HIV through spitting or biting, because that is not how HIV is transmitted.
6. It violates the privacy rights of people living with HIV by permitting confidential medical information to be used in a criminal proceeding.  Issuing a protective order at later stage does not prevent the violation of privacy. 
7. HIV is a chronically manageable disease and should not be treated as a deadly weapon. Defining HIV as a deadly weapon further stigmatizes the disease and those living with it. 
8. Although the bill is supposed to target cases of intentional transmission; it is overbroad and would apply to any person living with HIV involved in a criminal prosecution.  

Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Members
Chair – Rep. Abel Herrero (District 34 – Nueces)
Vice Chair – Rep. Joe Moody (District 78 – El Paso)
Rep. Terry Canales (District 40 – Hidalgo)
Rep. Todd Hunter (District 32- Nueces)
Rep. Jeff Leach (District 67 – Collin)
Rep. Matt Shaheen (District 66 – Collin)
Rep. David Simpson (District 7 – Longview)
Thank you.”
Here is a direct link to the committee page with all of the members’ contact info also (thanks Kristopher).
Sample Tweets You Can Send Out for #SB779 Advocacy
(*Be sure to include the Twitter handles of the members above!!!)
Ppl living w/#HIV deserve the same privacy as anyone else; vote NO on #SB779! #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#SB779 violates the privacy & dignity of ppl w/#HIV! #TXHIV #texlege #HIVisnotacrime
#HIV does NOT = less than! #SB779 says otherwise. #TXHIV #texlege #HIVisnotacrime
#SB779 is a HUGE step BACKWARDS for #TX; oppose it! #texlege #TXHIV #HIV #HIVisnotacrime
#SB779 poses a #publichealth problem not just for ppl w/#HIV, but 4 ALL of #TX.  #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#HIVisnotacrime, but #SB779 treats it as such. Oppose this unfair bill! #texlege #TXHIV #HIV
#TX does NOT need #SB779 to create more #HIV stigma & fear; vote NO! #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#HIPAA exists 4 a reason; #SB779 violates privacy & should not pass in #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime #HIV
Texans w/#HIV are NOT 2nd class citizens; oppose #SB779 now! #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#Publichealth concerns need public health solutions, NOT criminal penalties! #SB779 #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime #HIV
#HIV should be treated the same way we treat other communicable diseases; say NO to #SB779. #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
If #SB779 passes, we will lose years of progress made w/#HIV testing & treatment. #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#SB779 invades privacy & criminalizes #HIV. #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#HIV+ Texans have a right to the same privacy as Texans w/out HIV. #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#Creating fear & shame will NOT help us #Get2Zero new #HIV cases in #TX. OPPOSE #SB779! #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
#HIV tests are private & only the person tested should reveal their test results; NO to #SB779. #texlege #TXHIV #HIVisnotacrime
Pls don’t penalize tens of thousands of law abiding Texans w/#HIV for the actions of a few; OPPOSE #SB779! #HIVisNOTacrime
Photo credit: Kristopher Sharp

World AIDS Day 2014, PWN-USA Style

The impact of advocacy by women living with HIV is happening, and is felt, all the time in communities where our members and sisters are doing their work on behalf of their communities. World AIDS Day is a time to truly highlight, and celebrate, that daily impact.

Below are some highlights of PWN-USA members’ activities across the US this World AIDS Day – Monday, December 1, 2014, and all week long. You can also check out this listing of a range of events featuring PWNers during World AIDS Week!


PWN-USA-Philadelphia members congratulate Regional Organizing Coordinator Waheedah Shabazz-El after receiving her Red Ribbon Award at UPenn Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) 11th Annual Awards Ceremony at City Hall


The Houston Positive Organizing Project, which includes members of PWN-USA, was successful in getting Houston Mayor Annise Parker to officially proclaim December 1 as World AIDS Day in the city. View the proclamation




The Alameda County Public Health Department presented the 5th Annual Dr. Robert C. Scott “Trailblazer Award” to Naina Khanna, PWN-USA’s own Executive Director!






Columbus, Georgia-based PWNer Tammy Kinney (left), with Juanita Hubbard and the Mayor of Columbus, Teresa Tomlinson (center)






Texas PWNer Nell Watts (second from the right), speaking with a panel of educators, Tarrant County Health Department, and Case Managers at University of Texas – Arlington Students for Global Change






Virginia PWNer Janet Hall was a Peer Advocacy Award honoree at the 9th Annual World AIDS Day Gala in Norfolk!



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PWN-USA co-founder and Board member Pat Migliore (second from right) with PWN-USA sisters and allies in Seattle, after she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in HIV/AIDS from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at the 11th Annual Stronger Together World AIDS Day Breakfast!





Texas advocate and ally Morenike Giwa Onaiwu of Advocacy Without Borders has launched the #NotYourInfection campaign to eliminate stigmatizing language from US laws. Read more about the campaign




Dominique Banks of Memphis, TN, represented PWN-USA and Project SWARM powerfully at the Women’s Empowerment Forum on Dec 4!



PWN-USA-South Carolina member Stacy Jennings reads a poem as part of her submission to TheBody.com’s #RedRemindsMe contest. Vote for her submission!

PWN-USA Board Chair Barb Cardell spoke out as part of a video series from the HIV Disclosure Project about HIV science, stigma, and truths about transmission risk. Read the article and view all three videos



Check out this video of Georgia-based PWNer Tammy Kinney on the 11 o’clock news on World AIDS Day!

Facts, Not Fear: In Ohio and Everywhere, HIV Is Not a Crime

By Naimah Oneal, Regional Co-Chair, PWN-USA-Ohio

Naimah Oneal  PWN-Ohio JPG
Naimah Oneal.

My name is Naimah Oneal; I am a mother, grandmother, auntie and lastly I am a woman living with HIV.  I must say that I am truly living with HIV by living my life.  I went back to school after my husband died and became a licensed social worker with my Master’s degree in Social Work.  I feel that I am a strong woman who understands that discussing one’s HIV status is important, but I have a problem with  this nation’s and particularly Ohio’s laws has they relate to HIV criminalization.

People are being imprisoned for decades, and in many cases have to register as sex offenders, as a consequence of exaggerated fears about HIV. Most of these cases involve consensual sex or conduct such as spitting and biting that has only a remote, if any, possibility of HIV exposure. A man with HIV in Texas is serving 35 years for spitting at a police officer; a woman with HIV in Georgia received an eight-year sentence for failing to disclose her HIV status, despite the trial testimony of two witnesses that her sexual partner was aware of her HIV-positive status; a man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state’s anti-terrorism statute with possession of a “biological weapon” after he allegedly bit his neighbor;  and most recently, in Ohio, a women is being charged with felonious assault for having sex with a partner.

My concerns are as follows:

First: In the US and the world, women have a hard time negotiating their sex lives.  Whether you are single, married or a sex worker, women are being abused and are often the receivers of violence at the hands of their partner.   When a woman is also living with HIV, it just adds a layer of potential for women to further be abused. Recently, a woman in Texas was murdered for being HIV positive. As a side note: no one should ever be killed for being HIV positive.

The virus has been around for the past 30-plus years; no longer are people dying at anywhere near the rates they once were. Further, large studies have shown that if a person living with HIV is on treatment, their chance of transmitting HIV is practically zero.

Logo from HIV Is Not a Crime: The Grinnell Gathering — the first-ever National Conference on HIV Criminalization.

Second:  HIV is not a crime. The current laws are not about transmission, but about demonizing people for having the virus and making people who don’t know their status victims. If you’ve never been tested then how can you know you’re not living with HIV?  People living with HIV, including myself, live in fear of a system that at any minute could charge us with a crime, for simply having HIV.

I believe that there are also people  who are having unprotected sex — putting themselves and others at risk for STIs, including HIV — but will never get tested  because of most states having HIV related laws  dating back to the 1980s, not base in today’s vast  knowledge.   As long as they have never been tested and don’t know their HIV status, then they can’t be charged with a crime. When the world lives in fear of a virus that can only be seen with a microscope, only the virus is wins: HIV IS NOT A CRIME.

Third:  The media needs to take responsibility for offering correct information to assist in ultimately reducing the community viral load (a measure based on the level of HIV in a population as opposed to just one person’s body). I feel that everyone has a role when it comes to ending HIV in my lifetime. The media is in a position to help create an environment and tools for people to be able to disclose their HIV status without fear. As in the recent news report out of Columbus, the stories presented are often so one-sided, putting the weight of sexual responsibility on the person that knows their status when it is two people that are having sex.  People should be discussing and asking about their sex partners’ sexual history with language that asks direct questions to obtain direct answers. Asking someone if they are “clean” is not a direct question.  If I have just had a shower then I am clean. “Clean from what?” would be my question. Teaching people correct information should be one of the media’s goals, and can be an important part of media outlets helping to reduce the community viral load.

Last: I feel that most states that have HIV criminalization laws should change the language to be rooted in the current science, not the fears of the past.  All people have a right to not live in fear of a community that is misguided, misinformed, and hell-bent on finding someone to blame for this virus.   People like Elisha Henson, an HIV-positive woman from Texas, should not ever have been murdered. HIV IS NOT A CRIME.

Naimah Oneal is a Regional Co-Chair of PWN-USA-Ohio.

AIDSWatch 2014: A Life-Altering Experience

By Nancy Asha Molock, Regional Co-Chair, PWN-USA-Philadelphia

Nancy Asha Molock head shot
Nancy Asha Molock.

I attended AIDSWatch 2014 for the first time April 27-29. I had heard so much about it from other PWN-USA members, so I was elated to be awarded a scholarship for my hotel accommodations. I wanted to lobby on Capitol Hill and make it personal by putting a face to HIV/AIDS, so when the legislators are making decisions about HIV/AIDS funding they won’t just see black numbers on white paper. They will also see my face and the faces of many others who live with HIV/AIDS, and hopefully they will see how programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS) are important in improving the quality of lives of those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

The AIDSWatch training session was thorough and gave us the skills and confidence needed to lobby on Capitol Hill. I had never been in a room with so many other HIV-positive people at one time. Something shifted inside of me when I turned around and saw a sea of people, most of whom were HIV positive. Watching activists proudly stand and represent their states during roll call was awesome. I thought: no shame, no guilt = power. My eyes watered as I told someone that I always felt alone living with HIV until being at AIDSWatch. A man sitting nearby overheard me; he stood up, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and said: “No dear, you are not alone.” I will always hold that memory close to my heart.

The visits on Capitol Hill to speak with our Senators and Congressmen and -women were a little unnerving at first, but by the second visit it became a little more comfortable. Our team was very professional; we told our personal stories and articulated HIV policy and the support we needed from them. It’s important for the legislators to see that people living with HIV can be proactive in their health care, and that we are more than just stereotypes of chanting protesters or people sitting on their bottoms collecting benefits.

AIDSWatch logoThe legislators also need to understand that people living with HIV do have the power of the vote, and we want to have people in office who are sensitive to our needs and who will pass laws and provide funding that will benefit us. I wanted to get that message across while in Rep. Chaka Fattah’s office. I mentioned to his Congressional aide that I live in Fattah’s district and have voted for him in the past and would like to continue voting for him. I feel that we were heard and hopefully our voices made a difference.

My total experience at AIDSWatch was life altering. I arrived in D.C. a little unsure of myself and not knowing what to expect; I returned home a more empowered and confident person. The trainings were enlightening and the Capitol Hill visits help to sharpen my advocacy skills. Meeting and bonding with other HIV-positive people was also very special for me.

Being at AIDSWatch has confirmed for me that I must continue in the struggle even if I get a little weary and want to quit, I shouldn’t. There are some people who can’t advocate for themselves, but their voices still need to be heard. It’s important for people living with HIV to have a collective voice to build collective power to ensure that our needs are being met, so that we all can live the best life that we deserve. I’m so looking forward to AIDSWatch 2015!

Nancy Asha Molock serves as Regional Co-Chair of PWN-USA-Philadelphia.