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Spring Newsletter: Bodily Autonomy

4 May

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The Importance of Bodily Autonomy
As a woman living with HIV, I have the right to control what happens to my body, to live with dignity and respect despite where I come from. I desire to live free from stigma and discrimination due to my HIV status, race or gender. Globally, Women living with HIV have to contend with intimate partner violence, institutionalized violence and other forms of violence. There is a link between violence against women and reduced access to treatment, care and support. I have been treated for Posttraumatic Stress disorder and I was coercively sterilized due to my status- these affected my desired health outcome.

To read the full article click here.

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BABES Movie Matinee

BABES is hosting a movie matinee for BABES members and their families at the BABES office on May 27 from 3-5pm. Come join us for a fun afternoon complete with refreshments!

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2017 Annual Leadership Retreat

It’s that time of year again! BABES is preparing for it’s annual retreat, July 28-30. We will be mailing out the applications on May 23. If would like an application please call us at 206-720-5566 or email the_staff@babesnetwork.org to let us know. Space is limited and is first come, first serve! Applications are due by June 23 and we will notify you by July 7.

 

 

 

 

BABES is hiring!

28 Mar

BABES is hiring an HIV-positive Peer Advocate!

REPORTS TO: BABES Program Manager Nicole Price

DESCRIPTION: BABES Network-YWCA is a peer leadership program for women and families affected by HIV, a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. BABES promotes self-empowerment, reduces isolation, enhances quality of life and serves the needs of women living with HIV and their families through peer support, advocacy, education and outreach.

Operating on the concept that HIV positive women are uniquely qualified to understand and support one another, BABES Network’s HIV positive Peer Advocates support our mission by helping other HIV positive women move into positions of leadership.  They provide peer mentorship and education to other HIV positive women, and recruit women for events and retreats.  Peer Advocates may also perform community outreach and prevention education at schools, treatment centers, shelters, prisons, churches, businesses and other groups.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Engage HIV+ members in conversations about treatment adherence, medical care, support
  • Support healthy behaviors and attitudes among BABES’ multi-cultural membership with active listening, strength-based counsel, education and modeling
  • Respond to provider referrals and self-referred women to provide welcoming service entry point for newly diagnosed or those re-entering the care system
  • Facilitate support groups, events and retreats.
  • Visit members in the hospital or at home as prearranged with supervisor.
  • Work with co-workers to develop an effective team to fulfill BABES Network mission.
  • Provide resources and referrals to women living with HIV/AIDS including food, housing and transportation assistance, medical care and case management
  • Stay up-to-date on medical developments related to HIV and changes to AIDS services

To view the full job description click here!

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – Moving Forward in 2017!

10 Mar

National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day Event Flyer

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward!

1 Feb

Two Choices: To Cope or Not to Cope

By Anonymous

It’s a new year and the world seems to have gone crazy. I fear for our country: for minorities, the LGBT community and the 99% who are all justifiably worried that our social fabric is unraveling.

In the midst of this, I still struggle with my diagnosis, though it’s been several months since I found out that I had HIV. It’s difficult not to go back in my mind to the shock, disbelief, anger and fear that I experienced when I first found out. How could my partner have done this to me? What did I do to deserve this? How am I going to deal with my reactions to these harsh drugs that make me so sick? How – how – am I going to cope?

A long time ago, when I was going through a crippling divorce, a very wise therapist told me, “You have two choices: to cope or not to cope.”

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I chose to cope back then, and I’m choosing to cope now. You see, I’ve been blessed. I found BABES. Even though I live pretty far from their meeting place, I attend meetings whenever I can. I listen to their incredible stories of how they’ve been living with HIV for 20, 25, 30 years or more. I feel their pain, and they feel mine.

When I’m unable to show up in person, these wonderful women reach out to me to check on me and ask how I’m doing. They seem to intuit when I reach a low point, and give generously of their time and caring.

Without them, I would have floundered completely. I have a long way to go; I’ve barely started my journey. But my hope is to find acceptance within myself and move on, to focus on my healing, my supportive family, and my own creativity. With the encouragement of my group, I feel hopeful that I can keep going.

 

Thank you, BABES.

To read the full newsletter click here!

Peer Advocate shares her experience in DC for World AIDS Day!

5 Jan

Moving Forward with HIV in America: Drawing Strength from Our Past and Empowering Today’s Leaders

I was invited by a PWN-USA sister and PACHA member to attend an Office of National AIDS Policy event to commemorate World AIDS Day, which is held annually on December 1. This event would be the final public event under the Obama Administration. It was youth-focused event seeking to channel the energy and wisdom that brought AIDS out of the shadows and to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy through 2020. The event featured multiple generations of HIV/AIDS advocates, spanning leaders from the beginning of the epidemic through the present day.

The programming started with a welcome from Amy Lansky, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). She then passed it along to the person who put this event together, George Fistonich, the Policy Advisory for ONAP. He reminded some and educated others on looking back at the past eight years of change. He went through this very informative infographic blog by Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, called What We’ve Done to Address HIV/AIDS in America during the Obama Administration. I would definitely advise everyone to read this post and share it widely! Amy came back to briefly talk about the National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2016 Progress Report and the five things we should know, which are:

(1) Made national progress on nine key indicators.
(2) Established three new developmental indicators.
(3) Completed 76% and initiated 22% of 91 Federal actions planned for 2016.
(4) Implemented the Strategy in communities across the nation.
(5) Addressed challenges to meet our 2020 goals.

Learn more about the National HIV/AIDS Strategy at aids.gov/2020.

After the presentations, we had an emotional and interactive dialogue with four panelists and two moderators, White House staff members Raffi Freedman-Gurspan and George Fistonich. Panelists included Jeffrey S. Crowley (Program Director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O’Neill Institute), Dazon Dixon Diallo (Founder and President of SisterLove), Daniel Driffin (HIV/AIDS activist), and Kimi Farrington (2014 NMAC Youth Scholar).

The panel was structured around responding to clips from How to Survive a Plague, a film which follows the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT. Around the globe, 16 million people are alive today thanks to their efforts. The folks on the panel that were present during the ACT UP days reminded us what it was like then and the dramatic actions they took to be heard. During that time friends, lovers, and children were dying every day and no one was doing anything about it.

We also talked about how far we’ve come and one of the HIV advocates who has been doing this work for 20 plus years said she still felt hopeful that we can continue building and making strides towards change, even with the Trump presidency ahead of us. This person was not discouraged because she was very excited and proud of our up and coming young leaders who are doing and will continue to do phenomenal work in the many movements that change lives.

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It was my first time watching clips from How to Survive a Plague and one day I will watch it in its entirety. It was emotional to watch those courageous people march around the National Mall holding the ashes of their loved ones and dumping them on the lawn of the White House as protest against the silence of the Reagan and Bush administrations.

One of the audience members spoke about the experience of living in the South where, as we know, a lot of southern states did not adopt the expansion of Medicaid, a huge resource for people living with HIV to receive the appropriate medical attention and make sure they’re insured so that their medications and doctors’ appointments are covered. This young gay black man said it’s a totally different story for him and his community who live in places in the South that are struggling with the lack of resources and opportunities. They’re not safe or supported to be able to speak up for themselves or others, which makes progress really slow.

He then challenged folks in the room to come where they’re at to witness what’s going on. He was right. I know the statistics and barriers in other states but I haven’t dealt with the same barriers living in Washington my whole life. Washington is one of the highest virally suppressed states in the nation and we’re one of few states that declared to reduce new HIV diagnoses by 50% by 2020 with our END AIDS in WA proclamation by Governor Inslee.

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My big take away from the trip is that I want to work on doing more for other people in states that don’t benefit from the same resources and opportunities as I do. I see myself moving to the South, most likely to New Orleans, to start working towards this personal and professional goal of mine. I could risk losing a lot that makes my care very comfortable and my health being on top, but it’s the end game that’s more important. I want to help others because it was the help that I received that saved my life.

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Check out this blog post in honor of World AIDS Day by Positive Women’s Network USA.

Written by: Tranisha Arzah, BABES Peer Advocate