Washington: Agency Dedicated to Women With HIV
September 19, 2005
Babes Network, a Seattle agency devoted to supporting women with HIV/AIDS, began as a small group of HIV-positive women gathering for potluck dinners at friends' houses in 1987. In 1989, the network applied for a grant through Northwest Family Services. Three years later, Babes became an independent nonprofit organization.
Currently, about 285 women take advantage of the group's services, which include support group meetings, peer counseling, and picnics. "We're basically just like each other's friends," said Peer Counselor Nicole Price, who runs Babes' new co-ed support group.
In March, due to funding concerns, Babes Network relinquished its independent nonprofit status and became part of the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County. Pat Migliore, a founding member who is now on the group's advisory board, said the transition to a larger organization means security for Babes and continuity for its clients.
Around 10 percent of King County's 5,808 HIV/AIDS cases are female -- a group increasing faster than others. Gary Goldbaum, an epidemiologist at Public Health -- Seattle & King County, said African-born immigrant women are "at potentially increased risk" for HIV. "They're coming from parts of Africa where HIV is rampant," said Goldbaum.
That does not surprise Lina Ali, a Tanzania native who is HIV-positive. As a member of the King County HIV/AIDS Planning Council and a volunteer at Babes, Ali said persistent cultural stigma and concerns about seeking treatment without legal immigration status keep many African immigrants from getting tested for HIV or discussing their status. Ali aims to spread the word among other immigrant women that medical assistance and support are available.
09.15.05; Julie Davidow
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.