Tuesday, October 24, 2017
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
While all women can be the targets of abuse, those with disabilities or other vulnerabilities are at higher risk of being targeted by those who are abusive.
The Positive Women’s Network provides support and advocacy for women living with HIV/AIDS. The PWN “works to achieve HIV-related policies and programs grounded in gender equity and human rights.” The PWN reminds us of just how vulnerable this population is.
Women living with HIV are twice as likely to experience intimate partner abuse and five times as likely to experience lifetime sexual assault as the general population of women.
Transwomen are those at the highest risk for HIV in the US. They are physically abused and the targets of hate crimes at a much higher rate than the general population of women.
Disclosure of HIV status can increase vulnerability to violence, including murder.
Women living with HIV have consequences men do not. Loss of custody of children, and presumptions that promiscuity was the source of the HIV infection are but a few of the collateral consequences women with HIV face. Not surprisingly, women living with HIV are five times more likely than other women to suffer from PTSD. While treatment of the physical symptoms of HIV may be at a relatively advanced stage, other difficulties faced by positive women are not so easily addressed, and implicate diminishment of their human rights. Access to proper mental health care and parenting support is often missing in their lives. Discrimination in housing and employment remains a serious problem, compounded by race and poverty.
Women’s advocacy has been stronger since the last presidential election, but women living with HIV remain a hidden population. Positive Women’s Network is one of a handful of organizations whose purpose is to support women living with HIV and to empower them to address the root sources of power imbalance. PWN has a plan to root out HIV and the discrimination the condition brings. “We recognize that creating sustainable long-term solutions requires changing who’s in power and how power is held. We value decision-making processes that seek consensus and that prioritize those most impacted by the decision.”