The Woman's Voice In Queens - An Invitation
HIV does not discriminate by sex, race, or social status. Indeed, the infection rate among women is now rising four times as quickly as that among men. Furthermore, as more women become infected, so too are more families affected by HIV. Until recently, however, medical and scientific efforts were focused on HIV/AIDS only as it infected and affected men. It is only lately that there has begun to be any awareness that HIV-positive women may have different experiences and needs from men with the disease.
Staff of the Queens Health Network have been considering how best to improve services to women and families in Queens. We joined forces with community-based organizations working in Queens under the umbrella of the Ryan White Title II Queens HIV Care Network (QHCN). Together, QHCN members recognized that in order to improve services to women and families, we needed to hear what women themselves had to say about their problems and needs. It was agreed that a community-wide survey assessing the needs of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS would be the best way to start.
An anonymous questionnaire was chosen as the best method of collecting information. This method ensures confidentiality and has the advantage of making the survey accessible to a large number of women in a variety of centers in Queens. In the interests of equality, it was decided that it should be offered on a voluntary basis to every woman at each center. The details of the specific questions were developed with invaluable help from members of the QHCN Title IV Subcommittee, and very importantly, from women living with HIV/AIDS.
The questionnaire is now ready for use. It seeks information on a wide range of women's issues. We hope that the information gained through this survey will enable providers to learn about issues faced by many of the women living with HIV in our community and thereby help them develop a more women-centered approach to providing services. The needs assessment survey is being translated into Spanish and other languages as needed.
If you are a woman living in Queens who is infected with HIV or a woman or man who is caring for an infected child, you are invited to participate. Questionnaires are available at Elmhurst Hospital Center Adult and Pediatric Immunology Clinics, at the New York Urban League, Inc., and at many community-based organizations in Queens. We are also still recruiting community-based organizations who are interested in participating in the distribution of the needs assessment survey.
If you wish to participate, either as a consumer or as an organization, please contact Karen Bernstein, (718) 334-3837, or Sean Wiebersch (718) 297-7272.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.