February 14, 2013
This Valentine's Day, Positive Women's Network -- United States of America (PWN-USA) shows our love for women by participating in One Billion Rising's day of action to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
PWN-USA Colorado Regional Coordinator Barb Cardell, who with her husband is participating in Boulder's One Billion Rising event tonight says, "Tom and I are rising today to celebrate our love and life together. Because love should never be pain, disrespect, or violence."
One in every three women and girls globally will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes, and data increasingly shows a correlation between violence, trauma, and negative health outcomes for women, including HIV.
For women living with HIV, recent trauma is correlated with treatment failure even for women in high-quality medical care. One study from the University of California, San Francisco showed that for HIV-positive women in care, trauma within the last 30 days led to four times the rate of anti-retroviral treatment failure. The study investigated the impact of trauma related to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
In the Women's Interagency HIV Study, a longitudinal cohort study, HIV-positive women who experienced abuse within the last 30 days were 42% more likely to die than those who didn't.
Yet leading HIV medical providers point to a lack of systemic capacity to address violence and trauma in HIV care settings. "All the ingredients are known. Pilot studies have shown that it is possible to help women overcome the impact of lifelong trauma and prevent further abuse," says Dr. Eddy Machtinger, Director of the Women's HIV Program at the University of California, San Francisco. "What we lack, however, is support and funding for projects that put these ingredients together to effectively address trauma in primary care settings for women living with HIV. This model of 'trauma-informed primary care' could have transformative impacts on the lives of our patients and help the system more effectively address the many downstream impacts of trauma. We are actually at a very exciting and promising juncture in the women's HIV epidemic if we can seize this opportunity."
PWN-USA believes that love is justice. We call on leaders everywhere to end violence against women by changing the systems and structures that put women at risk for violence in the first place -- including economic injustice, gender inequality, criminalization of HIV, sex work, and drug use. President Obama's Federal Interagency Workgroup on HIV, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities holds great promise for systematic attention to this intersectional issue, and we look forward to seeing their progress in inventorying interventions, as well as a commitment to infusing an analysis of the devastating effects of trauma and violence on people living with HIV into the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and future assessments of health outcomes for HIV-positive women.
As women living with HIV, we also commit to showing up today for Cicely Bolden and the many women living with HIV we know who have silently died from violence, manipulation, and abuse. PWN-USA members and allies around the country are committed to ending violence and trauma. Today we will dance in the streets at One Billion Rising's flash mobs and dance parties to publicly affirm our celebration of life and love, and dignity for all women.
Happy Valentine's Day! May you each feel loved, supported, and safe.
Read PWN-USA's blog, U.S. Positive Women's Network