What’s New at World? Vol. 2

World AIDS Day 2014: An AIDS Free Generation-Do we have the right strategy?

by Cynthia Carey-Grant, Executive Director of WORLD

For the past 26 years World AIDS Day has been observed to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV virus. But after 26 years, how informed is the general public really about the current status of the epidemic? And most importantly, with everything we know about HIV and the incredible breakthroughs in treatment options available, why are so many people and communities so disproportionately impacted and the stigma still so strong?

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Nikia Harris, Outreach & Linkage Specialist, WORLD

This year, the theme is Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation-to highlight the need for governments, health officials, AIDS Service Organizations, healthcare providers and individuals to join in addressing HIV prevention and treatment. It portrays a message of hope and possibility for an end to the epidemic. But how are we to get there if we don’t address social determinants such as poverty, violence, racism, homophobia, etc., that intersects with and feeds the epidemic, or the misguided policies that hamper real and effective prevention partnerships?
For over three decades, we have been accumulating data and analyzing prevention and treatment research and interventions. We’ve all heard the numbers. We have the cold, hard facts and they remain incomprehensible. Let’s examine a few of these facts:
  • Today, over 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV. That is about the same number of people who have died from AIDS between 1981 and 2012. Since the beginning of the epidemic, around 78 million people have been infected with HIV. There are around two million deaths worldwide from AIDS each year, of which about 270,000 are children.
  • Sub-Sahara Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every 20 adults are living with HIV and accounting for nearly 71% of the people living with HIV worldwide.
  • The United States continues to lag behind on the global HIV care continuum and our country has the highest AIDS-related death rate among the wealthier nations of the world.
  • There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, of which 63% are not getting treatment. That is approximately the same percentage as in the low-and middle-income countries.

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I would expect one of the most powerful and richest nations in the world to be doing better. Statistics and numbers, while powerful, only tell part of the story. How HIV affects individual lives and communities is as diverse and unique as the many peoples and cultures of the world. As a woman, I know from personal experience that the idea of “one size fits all” is false and misleading. And yet the US National HIV and AIDS strategy attempts to do just that. When it comes to achieving the goal of an AIDS free generation, what is needed are tailored strategies that appropriately fit those who are disproportionately impacted within their identified communities. Let’s look at what this means for black women in the US:
  • Women make up 20% of the new HIV infections in the US.
  • The number of HIV positive women has tripled since 1985.
  • 84% of new HIV infections among women are from heterosexual contact.
  • African American women are 4 times more likely to become HIV positive than white women.
  • An estimated 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV infection in their lifetime.
  • The greatest risk of HIV infection for heterosexual African American women is from unprotected sex with a male partner.
Logic tells us that any national or local strategy should specifically address the unique needs of black women if it is to be successful. Black women want women-centered health services that address HIV prevention and treatment as a social justice issue. That means addressing HIV as it relates to women’s real lives, including the prevailing stigmatizations that keeps some women from seeking care and staying in care, and other social determinants that impact HIV positive women and their families, including lack of affordable housing, jobs, and food security.

The same analogy applies to the inclusion and empowerment of young people whom, without their buy-in and leadership, the promise of an AIDS Free Generation becomes hollow. Not enough youth are included at the policy and program development tables where strategies affecting them are designed. Unfortunately, this is true even at community-based organizations on the ground like WORLD. Their cry, “Nothing about us without us” resonates as truth that demands accountability. And we at WORLD intend to respond, “Yes, you are right. We must do better.” We often here, “Our youth are our future” and nowhere is this more applicable then in our goal of an AIDS Free Generation. We literally cannot do it without them.

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Sylvia Young, Direct Services Manager, WORLD

It’s not enough to posit, “We may not be where we ought to be, but thank God we aren’t where we used to be”. We need to speak up and act up again for justice. We need to actively support and call for greater resources and funding that addresses the reality of those living with and affected by HIV. We need greater public awareness around HIV prevention and treatment, and that requires full inclusion of those people directly impacted and on the front lines. It was the power of outrageous action fueled by love and compassion that turned the tide of the HIV epidemic once before. Quite possibly, the path to an AIDS Free Generation may lie in the lessons from the past signified by the motto, “Silence equal death.” It’s time to Focus, Partner, and Achieve…again.
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MultiMedia Fellowship
WORLD’s “In My Words” Multimedia Fellowship trains HIV positive women to increase their  confidence in becoming prepared public speakers to share their message to an audience.
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Multimedia Fellows

Our Fellowship is built upon the concepts of women’s empowerment, leadership, and advocacy that addresses gender-specific issues. Women are trained to feel comfortable knowing how much of themselves they want to share, how to effectively use talking points, and to build relationships between positive women and the community. Participants learn the power of social media tools such as Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to create a community and support system  where they can share stories with each other and the public.
On World AIDS day, Multimedia Fellows marched to City Hall in protest that their voices be heard. “Women matter”, said one of the participants, “We gained more confidence in story telling”.
We will be graduating 13 new women from our fellowship next Friday, December 19th at 11am in our office where each fellow will be sharing their story. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by calling our office 510-986-0340
Now I Can See the Light
Imagine a little brown child
Growing up with no fear
Now, all grown up, and afraid of death
Loss of vision, but not blind
Loss of respect, for mankind
Loss in a diagnosis, with no education
Now! Speaking out, full of communication
She’s pushing 60, seeing wisdom of life
I can now see the tunnel
Now I can see the light!
– Multimedia Fellow, Cat
“In My Words” Multimedia Fellowship was made possible through the generous grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation
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 EBAN II
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WORLD is proud to be apart of the UCLA- led project to implement a unique HIV intervention program aimed at reducing sexually risky behaviors and promoting healthier living among heterosexual African American couples. 
EBAN, a Yoruban concept from West Africa that symbolizes “safety, security and love within one’s family and community” – is designed not only to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases but to increase couples’ ability to communicate with each other, make safer behaviors more appealing, stay in healthy relationships and respect their communities.
“Before Eban, I couldn’t talk to people about HIV and being a relationship who someone who is different than me. Now I feel like I can.”
 
“Things I have learned here, my partner and I will involve in strengthening our relationship.”

 

The project involves 10 community-based organizations in Northern and Southern California including Cal-PEP, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Allen Temple, EBAC and HEPPAC. Here at WORLD, EBAN group is held Thursdays evening from 5:30-8:00pm. 
 
Are you Interested in:
Healthy relationships?
Safer sex?
Improving your communication skills with your partner?
Talking to other couples living with HIV?
 
Then join EBANs next 8 week cycle! Contact Denise at our office.
FAQ
Who can participate in the program?
  • Heterosexual couples (at least one partner must be Black/African American/African descent)
  • One partner must be HIV positive and the other partner must be HIV negative
What does the program involve?
  • 8 weekly meetings
  • Spending time with your partner
  • Talking with other couples affected by HIV
  • Fun activities including role plays, videos, and exercise
  • 3 to 5 interviews over a 1-year period
  • 3 to 5 HIV/STI tests over a 1-year period
  • Up to $150 to $260 for completing program activities
How might the program help you and your partner?
  • Learn about health issues affecting Blacks/African Americans
  • Improve your sense of well-being as a couple and as individuals
  • Help your friends, family, and community engage in healthy behaviors
  • Be part of an innovative study that will help other couples living with HIV

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Community Researchers Engaging Women (CREW) Focus Group

Wednesday, December 10th marked the launch of CREW’s participatory action research project with a Focus Group of women from the community. Each shared their thoughts on health concerns of HIV+ women, healthcare advocacy, and healthcare reform.

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Want to make a difference in your community?
Want to see changes to health care services for women?
We are currently recruiting for women to join WORLD’s CREW!
Through CREW, Community Researchers will interview women in Alameda County to learn where the gaps are in women’s health, showcase what services and programs work well and let us know what tools women need to be better prepared to access healthcare services.

We will select highly motivated applicants to participate in a day and a half training where they will learn how to conduct community research. The women selected will learn about confidentiality, asking questions, conducting community surveys, documenting responses and lots of great information about women’s health, leadership and advocacy. After

completing the training, participants will commit to dedicating up to 2 months to the CREW and conduct up to 15 interviews.

 

All the information collected will be combined into a report and presented at a one day convening in May to health professional, policy makers, community members and social service staff to begin identifying ways to improve, expand and increase the quality of services for all of us here and for women in our families, communities and across our state.
Join CREW!

The deadline to apply is
December 15, 2014
Contact Ashley @ our office for more information
 
CREW is open to all self-identified women. Community Researchers will receive a stipend for completing the project.
CREW was made possible by the generous grant from
 the Ford Foundation
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Join the WORLD Team!
We’re hiring! 
 The Outreach & Linkage Specialist conducts street-level and venue based outreach, in various settings and to diverse populations in Alameda County, and other local areas.  The specialist helps clients access services by providing referrals, transportation,  accompanying them to appointments, and engaging with providers. Specialists remind clients of medical and other supportive appointments, and follow-up after appointments. The Outreach and Linkage Specialist will provide support and referrals for dealing with difficult issues (disclosure, adherence, parenting, relationships, pregnancy and HIV, substance use).
Interested in joining our team? Visit our website @ www.womenhiv.org for more information and application procedures.

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