Meeting the needs of women living with HIV in Washington DC
19 September 2011
During an official visit to Washington DC, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé made a special stop at the Women’s Collective, a non-profit organization that provides HIV prevention, testing, care and support for women and their families in some of D.C.’s most underserved communities.
The Women’s Collective is run by women living with HIV and provides a safe, non-judgmental environment for women, girls and their families who are living with or at risk of HIV. Its objective is to meet the needs of women living with HIV by reducing barriers to care and strengthening their network of support. Their activities include organizing support groups, HIV testing, HIV prevention education, case management and referrals.
Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Collective, Patricia Nalls led the visit and described the impact that the epidemic was having among women in the District of Columbia. According to most recent epidemiological data, at least 3 percent of the residents in this District are living with HIV.
She explained how women’s clinical and social services don’t really fit into the current framework of services, which are usually focused on men. Women have families, children, and often worry first about providing for them than taking care of themselves. They worry not only about disclosure, but about co-payments for medicine, housing, employment, and of course, their children.
During the visit, Mr Sidibé met with nearly 30 women living with HIV to discuss some of the challenges they face in their every day lives and how the Women’s Collective is making a difference for them and their families.
“So often the global response gets all the attention, but we are part of the globe,” said one of the members. “People think that here in the United States we have all the services that we need. That is clearly not true.”
Michel Sidibé expressed that he was he was touched by the women’s collective strength and leadership and emphasized UNAIDS’ commitment to place women at the center of the global AIDS response.