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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  

Why Race Matters: Women and HIV

April 18, 2016

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Let's Get Intersectional! Taking Action, Making Change

Now that we've outlined some important issues, where do we go from here?

A huge first step is to understand some of the different intersectional experiences women living with HIV may face, so that we can better work together to advocate for one another and ourselves. How do we do that?

  1. Recognize privilege and use it for change: Remember: Pointing out that privilege exists is not meant to make those who experience privilege feel guilty. Being born with and having privilege is not usually something a person chooses, but using privilege to challenge oppressive systems is a choice. Silence about these systems from those who benefit from them is what keeps them going. Calling out where systems are biased is what challenges them.
  2. United we stand: The voices of women living with and affected by HIV have long been underrepresented and unheard at decision-making tables. But there is a history to build from in challenging privilege in the HIV community -- most notably, the privilege of doctors and researchers to hold all the knowledge about HIV and deliver it to people living with HIV. We know that people living with HIV have the most information and expertise about living with HIV and what's needed for people living with HIV to live and thrive. Therefore, people living with HIV must be in positions to shape decisions that impact their lives. This is a principle that all people living with HIV can get behind.
  3. Put those most impacted front and center: Both outside and within our HIV community, people most impacted by racism, patriarchy, class oppression, disability rights violations, homophobia, and other intersecting systems of oppression have the most information about what it is to live under these systems and what is needed to start to take them apart. A gigantic step in challenging privilege is to listen to those who are most impacted by that issue -- and then act on what you have heard.
  4. Join a community: A Girl Like Me is a diverse online community where women living with HIV form a wide range of experiences share their perspectives and truths. Join us! Learn more about The Well Project and A Girl Like Me. Many other extremely valuable communities of support exist for women -- some online, some within your own local area. The Well Project highlights several impactful organizations in our Partners section. You can also find community and support by browsing the resources in AIDSmap's e-atlas.
  5. Take action: In the U.S. and around the globe, there are many fantastic advocacy organizations fighting for the rights of people living with HIV at the intersections of gender, race, national origin, income, and more. Below are some examples.

As PWN-USA leaders Vanessa Johnson and Waheedah Shabazz-El put it in a statement on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016: "The HIV epidemic in this country will end when America commits to the underlying conditions which enable HIV to thrive, such as racism and poverty."

* References for table information:

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.

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