A woman uses a giant pencil to draw a heart around herself.

Representation of Women (Black Women)

It has been almost 7 years since I started out in advocacy. I have noticed so many things that seem out of place and should not be.

I will start by saying that globally there are 38 million people who live with HIV and there are approximately 20.1 million women and girls who are living with HIV. This is more than half of all the diagnoses worldwide.1

One in 4 people living with HIV in the United States are women.2

These numbers are very alarming to me and still, we (women) are left out repeatedly. I would not have thought that advocacy can have me in a state of disbelief when it comes to representing those who are at a higher risk of contracting HIV. My concern for all women grabs my soul. We are not seen at all except when it is time to tokenize us and what I mean is not on billboards, campaigns, or on webinars. And when we ask the question of why there is silence.

As black women, we want a seat at the table

There cannot be an online webinar or discussion on health equity for Black people and then not have a Black woman on that panel to discuss our issues. It has happened several times not once or twice but more often than it should.

I, for one, as a Black woman who lives with HIV would never have a discussion addressing Black men and not have them there to do that for themselves. I am not a Black man or a man at all. It is not my place to do that, and I would give them that space to speak on their behalf.

I have not seen one woman address men in a topic discussion and not have them show up for that. I want gay Black men to know that you cannot speak for us at all. You can address it yes, but not speak for us.

Representation matters

I am asking all women not just Black women to speak up more when it comes to this. We are impacted by HIV just as well as men.

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic started in the 80s, yes gay White men were affected at alarming rates, but that has changed. It is no longer the 80s and we women should be addressed more in these spaces.

We are here and we show up! So why are we not being reached out to when the said topics talk about us? I ask you when this happens reach out to the one who gave the webinar/discussion and voice your concerns to them until they hear you.

We are the leading force to help other women know that they can live with HIV and the voices to reach the women who are negative.

Be the change ladies, be the change. Be the change, and do not let your issues be put to the back. Never allow others to leave you out where it is needed. Do not let what matters for us disappear.

We are strong because we are women!

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