Cindy Krampah recently graduated from Rutgers with a degree in public health, and has been an administrative intern at the International Community of Women - North America since September 2016. In her role, she helps organize and run trainings and advocacy events for women living with HIV. In recognition of Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we had the opportunity to connect with Cindy to learn more about herself and her work in the HIV field.
This interview is a part of the series Positive Organizing Sheroes -- Highlighting Women Making a Difference. Positive Organizing Project (POP) is supported by Gilead Sciences, Inc. Learn more about POP here!
How you get involved with the International Community of Women (ICW)?
I love the mission of ICW and what we do with women living with HIV to raise awareness and build community. We make sure that women living with HIV are involved at all levels of their work. ICW's programming is guided by women living with HIV and the issues they face. We bring women together and I am happy to be a part of that.
I believe that it is very important to use my strengths to help others. The joy that I see in others' faces doing the work I do. Whatever path I choose to follow in the future, I know that as long as I am helping the community and doing what I can to empower people, it's very rewarding. I am a recent graduate, and this is my first time working in this field. It has been a great experience so far, I have met a lot of interesting people.
Tell me about your feminist workshops that you are organizing through your Positive Organizing Project grant.
We are organizing feminist workshops and creating training cohorts of women living with HIV in North Carolina and New Jersey. Each workshop produces action plans that are led by the women living with HIV. We encourage them to meet with their local decision makers to expand the number of women living with HIV doing that and increase visibility and awareness.
To truly have meaningful engagement of women living with HIV, they need to be at the center of any activities -- to ensure that programming meets their needs and is shaped by their experiences. you need to have them front and center. Their voices and experiences matter, and we want to them to be heard.
We had our first workshop last month in North Carolina. We brought 15 women living with HIV together and talk about issues they are facing. Many women felt passionate about having access to quality health care that was specific to women as well as HIV criminalization, housing access, sensitization for health care providers, and support/resources for family and friends. The majority of the women talked about the lack of social support groups for women living with HIV and how it was difficult to connect in the Carolinas. Collectively the groups came up with about six action plans, so it was very exciting! We are working to implement those action plans now.
On Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, what do you want people to know about HIV?
Personally, I feel a lot of people need to know about HIV stigma and recognize it as a barrier to health. Stigma is one of the biggest factors that prevents women from seeking help and support from others. Many women living with HIV can feel very alone because stigma, so it is so important that we are countering that by raising awareness and creating supportive communities for women living with HIV.
How do you stay motivated in this work?
The women that we work with provide such incredible support to each other. We are all a part of a big family and that keeps us all going. We make sure to support each other and I love being a part of this work.
Sarah Hashmall is communications manager at AIDS United.