The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
Michelle Lopez Alora Gale Precious Jackson Nina Martinez Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga Loreen Willenberg  
Michelle Alora Precious Nina Gracia Loreen  
U.S. News

Washington, D.C.: Turning Bitter Experience to Better Treatment

November 11, 2011

The HIV/AIDS nonprofit Women's Collective provides testing and other services from a strip mall storefront in Northeast Washington. The one-floor clinic has a staff of 18 and operates on a $1.6 million budget, of which $300,000 comes from the city, said founder Patricia Nalls.


Sabrina Heard is one of the community health workers at the Women's Collective. Each day, she juggles the complexities of living with HIV herself while providing support to clients.

Heard was diagnosed in 1990, when she gave birth to twins at Howard University Hospital. At that point, she had spent years in the District's crack scene after dropping out of Howard and working odd jobs at day care centers or as a seamstress.

"I didn't want to deal with the disappointment of not being able to return to school. I smoked drugs as a means of not feeling exactly what was going on at the time," said Heard.

In 2000, Heard enrolled in a local drug treatment center and her five children, none of whom have HIV, were moved into foster care. She completed detoxification, got her children back, and began volunteering and working part-time at Women's Collective. After being formally diagnosed with AIDS in 2004, Heard started taking antiretrovirals and her health improved.

In a private room at the clinic recently, Heard counseled a 37-year-old woman with HIV about keeping an upcoming doctor's appointment. "This may be new for you. I remember when it was new for me," Heard told the woman, clasping her hands tightly and offering a calming smile.

Back to other news for November 2011

Adapted from:
Washington Post
09.10.2011; Ian Shapira

More From This Resource Center

Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women

What Every HIV-Positive Woman Should Know About GYN Care and Prevention

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
News About HIV/AIDS Support & Care in Washington, D.C.

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.

See Also
Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV Tools You Can Use