Women Alive wants our readers to know that this UCLA study does include lesbians and has always included lesbians. However, we feel that it is important to point out that originally the study was not going to look at female partners.
We are happy to report that after lengthy conversations with several people involved in conducting this study, the project has now acknowledged the importance of including female partners of lesbians who are participants in this research.
Your Input is Valuable
We print this so that other women out there who have HIV/AIDS or who are advocates for women will know that we can make a difference by voicing our concerns, whether it's about lesbians, access to a medication that we need, qualifying for a clinical trial, or the need for housing, child care, and transportation to clinic visits.
All AIDS research projects have a Community Advisory Board. We encourage women with HIV/AIDS to participate on these boards. We urge lesbians with HIV and their partners to get involved on C.A.B.s in your areas to ensure that research begins to document the lives of lesbians with HIV and woman-to-woman transmission.
A Typical Scenario
In a woman's clinic at Bronx Lebanon, there was a lesbian who was HIV positive who used to come there for her care. Every time she came for an appointment, she brought her lover. She received care there for 1 year, and for 1 year her lover came with her. The lover was never invited in so that someone could talk to her about medical issues, support, emotional issues, or safer sex.
Heterosexual couples are routinely counseled. If a husband comes to clinic with his wife, he is invited in to talk about these things. But this woman, an HIV- lesbian partner of a woman with HIV, was never invited in. And guess what? She's HIV positive now because no information was provided to her about safer sex or about any of the dynamics of the relationship. It's appalling that so many lesbians have died!
You Can Help
One of the ways you can help is to join this study at UCLA and bring your partners, so we can begin to document what is going on with lesbians in the AIDS epidemic.
The C.A.B. for the Study at UCLA meets quarterly and is open to the public. You can find out more by calling Julie Axlerod at 310-794-9947.