The most memorable moment I had at AIDSWatch was standing on stage with all of my PWN sisters and chanting, "All women, all rights!" This powerful moment was one that will resonate in my activism for years to come. I am inspired by PWN's commitment to inclusion and it's great show of love one toward another. I love you all so much!
I am sitting here as the coordinator preparing for a meeting tomorrow for the Stigma Index Project interviewers and core members to discuss our next steps in developing strategies for eliminating stigma in our communities. It dawns on me that I am actually working to coordinate a meeting, me! -- a torn up from the floor up, ex-con, drug addicted, homeless black woman living with HIV ... who would have thought?
The energy of the tribe of my fellow HIV advocates at AIDSWatch 2017 echoed the heartbeat of those we have lost from the beginning of the epidemic. I was honored to walk to halls of the Capitol building and speak for those lives, my life with every congressperson and staffer I met. Our collective voices together are the rhythm of that heartbeat that will spark change and become a deafening war cry to our legislators if they don't listen to us.
On March 23 2017, Georgia Equality helped those who are passionate about reforming Georgia's outdated, discriminatory and unscientific HIV criminalization laws by hosting an HIV Criminalization Advocacy Training. As part of a comprehensive, community-centered approach to HIV prevention and care, this training was led by Emily Brown, Nina Martinez and Torrian Baskerville of Georgia Equality and covered: the content and history of Georgia's HIV criminalization laws; the main reasons HIV advocates want to reform these laws; key arguments against reform, how to listen to the opposition and effectively respond; and basic facts about HIV science that all decriminalization advocates need to know.
Issue: Despite assertions from the Administration that deportation efforts are focused on "violent criminals," a memo released last week from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) makes clear that detention and deportation efforts may target any undocumented immigrants. The same memo enlists local police to serve as part of the immigration enforcement apparatus. Such orders from the Administration create more opportunities for law enforcement to target and harass people based on race, language, and appearance . Data shows that immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes than those born in the U.S. Yet, ICE raids have already taken place in at least six states and have rounded up over 600 undocumented immigrants, at least a quarter of whom do not have any felony convictions. We need Congress to step up to oppose these actions and to protect immigrants from harmful stereotypes, mass deportation, discrimination and harassment.
What motivated me to attend AIDSWatch in Georgia was my preparedness and passion to educate representatives about the important issues at stake for people living with HIV/AIDS in Georgia and in the United States, related to policy and funding priorities. I have accumulated a huge fortune of data from PWN-USA, Georgia Equality, The Georgia HIV Advocacy Network, NHeLP and a host of other organizations that raised my ability to advocate in an effective and successful way.
About 12 years ago I spent three weekends over the course of six months at a grown-up sleep away camp that I called "anti-racism camp." The real name was even better. It was called "Doing Our Own Work" and it was an intensive reading, journaling, discussion and action program for white women who wanted to be actively anti-racist.
The incoming Trump administration and Congress have campaigned on promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. "Obamacare"), which has helped over 20 million Americans gain health care coverage as well as ensuring those of us with preexisting conditions are not discriminated against by insurance companies.
We are not just another case number. We are important to our communities.
You never know who you will run into sometimes, even at the doctor's office. I myself, as so many, live with my status. I don't want to say illness or disease, because both remind me of being sick.
With community events around the country happening from last week through the first week of November; a vibrant radio show on the theme hosted by PWN-USA Colorado member Pozitively Dee on Saturday; a Twitter chat scheduled for 2 PM ET today with special guest co-hosts from Christie's Place, Futures Without Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Well Project and the Women's HIV Program at UCSF (follow using the hashtags #EndVAWHIV and #pwnspeaks!); and at least two cities (Philadelphia and Houston) issuing proclamations for the Day of Action, our third annual Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV is shaping up to be another success.
The Positive Women's Network of the United States of America (PWN-USA) is a network of HIV+ women and allies organizing and advocating for our rights -- and blogging all along the way.
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