Supporting Women Is Not Happening
I mentioned in a previous article how there are a lot of people who live with HIV who do not feel supported at all or maybe it was an article on how advocates need support.
Anyhow over the past few months, many women have reached out to me who live with HIV more so than ever. A lot of them are not open with their HIV and feel so lonely. Although some of the ladies are connected with ASOs (AIDS Service Organizations) they still do not feel supported at all.
When I was first diagnosed
I can remember when I was first told that I tested positive for HIV and how lost I was, how scared I was, and how I did not feel that anyone could utterly understand what I was dealing with. For so many years I suffered in silence and pretended everything was okay, but I was so broken inside and lonely.
There were no women around to which I could relate. And no one can say how someone should deal with their diagnosis, but I know that there needs to be much more support for all women living with HIV.
Stigma and discrimination for women
It seems that when we speak up about supporting women more it gets swept under the rug. And it can be overwhelming to get so many women who reach out and just need some support. Stigma and discrimination hit us so much differently along with our internal battles (self-stigma) fighting with ourselves to not believe what others say.
Feelings of being rejected by loved ones, mental and physical abuse (partner violence), and still dealing with being a nurturing woman, wife, mother, and friend while working through our mental health issues because of our diagnosis. Who is there for the women who are hurting and scared? Where are the states with support groups for women?
HIV doesn't just affect men
We keep hearing women need support and then we may see conferences have some sessions for women, but they go nowhere after that. We are still not represented as we should be, and they say representation matters. I guess it only matters when you are not a woman.
Why are the small women’s community-based organizations for HIV not being supported as much? To whom do we get these answers? Are our communities afraid of how well we will do in our endeavors? HIV does not only affect men, yes, but I also said it because someone has to say it!
Other social determinants that affect women
Some women live with HIV who are homeless as well, and that leads to mediocre quality of life and then not being able to stay in care and their states fail to do anything about this. I thought we were supposed to be focusing on the needs of a person who lives with HIV.
If this is the case, then why aren’t women who live with HIV needs being met? Especially since we know that suicide rates are higher in people who are living with HIV.
I speak from my heart and experiences as an advocate.
Do you wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day?