Author Archives: theissueofblood

Prespectives from “HIV is Not A Crime” Conference

A Snapshot of Voices and Perspectives from Grinnell

This week, from June 2-5, the HIV is Not a Crime Conference took place in Grinnell College in Iowa. Advocates from across the country came together to brainstorm and share their perspectives and experiences in connection with HIV criminalization – the use of criminal law to prosecute and penalize people living with HIV for conduct that would be legal if they did not get tested or know their status.

Since many people, including members of the Positive Justice Project, a national campaign to end HIV criminalization, were not able to travel to Iowa for the conference, I want to share a snapshot of the conversations that took place among advocates and community members at the conference. The themes represented here are not exhaustive, but they form a powerful and inspiring platform for action, movement-building, and social change over the next year.

1) HIV Criminalization is Part of Broader Criminal Justice and Social Justice Struggles

Advocates expressed broad consensus that HIV criminalization laws are rooted in homophobia, racism, and other forms of social injustice, and that HIV-phobia is a proxy for homophobia, racism, and sexism. The laws provide police with additional ammunition to target and control people of color, LGBT folks, and immigrants.

Many advocates expressed deep frustration at the lack of racial justice, economic justice, and reproductive justice analysis in the HIV movement.

To fight HIV criminalization, advocates are eager to incorporate an intersectional lens that recognizes the connection between HIV criminalization and broader criminal justice issues, including the problem of overcriminalization across the United States, police profiling, and stop-and-frisk programs targeting people of color, immigrants, queer youth, and transgender people.

There was strong interest in pursuing strategies that place HIV criminalization laws within a broader context of police targeting, surveillance, and persecution of vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities, including people of color, LGBT folks, immigrants, and sex workers.

The unifying thread is the importance of ending the use of the criminal justice system to target, control, and contain members of our communities who are feared or disliked on the basis of stigmatized identity.

Advocates expressed that the failure to recognize these broader connections weakens and divides us – particularly, when we fail to incorporate the perspectives and experiences of marginalized people in our advocacy, outreach, collaborations and compromises.

2) HIV Criminalization Laws Undermine Public Health

Since HIV criminalization laws are, in large part, rooted in homophobia and stigma, advocates expressed a strong interest in using medical/scientific (evidence-based) and public health lenses to talk about HIV criminalization. This approach focuses on describing the actual routes, relative risks and consequences of transmission to our communities, policymakers, elected officials, and representatives. HIV is not a crime and should be addressed from a public health perspective.

3) Our Work, Outreach and Collaborations Should Reflect the Nuances and Diversity of our Vibrant Communities and Life Experiences

Since our communities and life experiences are diverse, advocates are eager to cast a broad and inclusive net. For example, although having LGBT support is important for advancing HIV campaigns, a constant theme in the conference was the need to make HIV criminalization more than just a “gay issue.” Advocates stressed that we cannot forget about other communities.

To broaden the base of support, advocates suggest focusing on collaborations across communities and across social justice movements. Cross-pollination in an intersectional fashion is critical for success.

As advocates noted, to effectively carry out this work, it is important to understand HIV, race, economic justice, reproductive justice, immigration, and the prison industrial complex.

In light of the changing nature of identity-politics – folks now identify across movements and communities – instead of identity-based alliances, coalitions and messaging, it likely is more effective and powerful to use a values-based approach.

4) Tackling Tough Compromises Through Inclusion

Advocates expressed a strong interest in making well-informed decisions and compromises that recognize the diversity, varying needs, and nuances in our communities and lived experiences.

Even in Iowa, where advocates successfully pushed for change, there is more work to do to improve the HIV criminalization law. Advocates at the conference acknowledged that hard choices often have to be made in legislative campaigns. Some advocates noted that Iowa is instructive in looking at ways to organize and advocate, but Iowa is not a model law – difficult compromises were be made, and when the bill passed unanimously it made some advocates wonder whether too many compromises were made and too much was left at the table.

Advocates noted that every state is different. We need multiple legislative options and strategies that reflect the unique needs and dynamics of each state. Many recognized that there is no single path for HIV de-criminalization. Legislative campaigns and efforts all require compromises that reflect diverse state-specific needs. Our movement, goals, asks, and compromises must reflect our communities and diverse needs. But our anti-criminalization work and de-criminalization efforts should not end up criminalizing, marginalizing, or stigmatizing someone else.

When making compromises, we should consider: who is sitting at the table and participating in the conversation? Who is making these decisions, and who will be affected by them?

Advocates urged: nothing about us without us! Nothing about an affected community without representation from that community.

5) Collaboration and Coordination is Key for Collective Impact

The conference stressed a powerful and inspiring theme of interconnectedness. We are all one family of advocates working together to abolish the criminalization, discrimination, oppression, persecution, and dehumanization of people living with HIV, our families, and our communities.

Advocates expressed an interest in exploring meaningful collaborations grounded on mutual respect and based on commonalities and shared values.

Advocates are eager to coordinate work stream and align initiatives with friends, colleagues, and peers across the movement against HIV criminalization, across the broader HIV movement, and across other social justice movements. There was widespread recognition that we can complement each other’s work for collective impact.

Looking for HIV Criminalization Resources?

In anticipation of this conference, The Center for HIV Law and Policy gathered a selection of HIV criminalization resources for advocates and organizations, including This is How We Win: A Toolkit for Community Advocates, and HIV criminalization palm cards in English and Spanish. We provide free, unlimited access to substantive resources to support and increase the advocacy power and expertise of attorneys, community members, service providers, and all people living with HIV.


Si Se Puede!
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Esq.
Legal Director
The Center for HIV Law & Policy
65 Broadway, Suite 832
New York, NY 10006
Telephone: 212-430-6733
Fax: 212-430-6734

Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Disrupt Care for Women Living With HIV

Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Disrupt Care for Women Living With HIV
Olivia Ford

by Olivia Ford, Positive Women’s Network – USA

May 16, 2014

A significant source of care for women, infants, children, and youth living with HIV is under attack.

With many thanks to Gina Brown, Positive Women’s Network – USA board member, for contributing significantly to the development of this article.

May 11-17 marks National Women’s Health Week, when the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health encourages women to get checkups and health screenings and build relationships with their health-care providers. Meanwhile, a significant source of care for women, infants, children, and youth living with HIV is under attack.

This March, when President Obama’s proposed budget for 2015 was released, we at Positive Women’s Network-USA, a national advocacy network of women living with HIV, were shocked to see the line item for Part D of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program zeroed out. The Ryan White Program ensures that more than half a million underinsured and low-income people living with HIV each year receive high-quality care and services. Part D-funded programs specifically serve women, infants, children, youth and families living with HIV—not only with medical care, but by providing medical and non-medical case management, peer-based programming, transportation, housing, child care, mental health and substance use services, food vouchers, and many other vital services.

These services aren’t extra; for many women living with HIV, who are disproportionately African American, Latina, and/or living below the poverty line, they are a lifeline to getting in and staying in HIV care, and maintaining a high quality of life.

While not all women living with HIV are eligible to receive care through Part D, more than 90,000 women, young people, and family members access Part D services each year, according to a recent report by the AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth and Families, which has also criticized the proposed cuts. These programs are often entry points into care—for women living with HIV as well as for youth, the fastest growing population living with HIV in the United States.

Under the president’s proposed 2015 budget, Ryan White Part C (which funds medical and early intervention services for people living with HIV) would absorb Part D-allocated funds and receive a $4 million increase—but it’s unclear what portion of these dollars would fund services for women, children, and youth, and what range of services would be covered.

When Gina Brown was diagnosed with HIV while pregnant with her daughter, in 1994, she was terrified. “I thought I was going to die,” said Brown. “But I was fortunate to find the Pediatric AIDS Program, a Part D program in my area of New Orleans. It was there that I learned about HIV and got the counseling I needed for me and my son to keep us both healthy, and for my daughter to be born HIV negative. That care saved my life.”

Part D’s leading role in the drastic reduction of perinatal HIV transmission rates in the United States—from roughly 25 percent by the early 1990s to less than 2 percent today—has been cited by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s HIV/AIDS Bureau as key to the decision to eliminate Part D. That success was made possible, in large part, through proactive outreach to and coordinated care for pregnant women living with HIV and their families, of the kind that Brown received during her pregnancy.

Also during March, news that a second infant born with HIV had become HIV-negative through aggressive treatment soon after birth rocked the headlines. This exciting news recalled the story of the first “cured baby,” whose HIV remission was widely reported in early 2013. Less often reported was the fact that both discoveries were made possible because the infants’ mothers, who are women living with HIV, were not effectively retained in care.

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 41 percent of women living with HIV nationally are retained in care, 77 percent of female Ryan White Program clients (37 percent of whom receive care through Part D) stay engaged in care, according to another recent federal report. This kind of success is right in line with the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy—the United States’ blueprint for addressing the domestic HIV epidemic—which are to help people with HIV stay in care, improve health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities. President Obama issued an executive order in 2013 to rigorously address persistent gaps in care—purportedly to assure that programs shown to work in achieving that goal would be maintained and expanded, not eliminated, when the puzzle of keeping people living with HIV connected to quality care is far from solved.

A significant piece of that puzzle for women (and another concern President Obama has devoted resources to addressing) may lie in the epidemics of violence and trauma, which affect women with HIV at alarming rates. Women with HIV experience intimate partner violence at more than twice the rate of the general population of U.S. women, and post-traumatic stress disorder at more than five times the national rate, according to data released in 2012. Women with HIV, including transgender women, who reported recent trauma were four times more likely to have their HIV treatment fail than those who did not. These numbers indicate a connection between unaddressed trauma and poor health outcomes for women living with HIV. Another study released in 2012 showed women with HIV reporting trauma in the past 30 days were 42 percent more likely to die than women who didn’t. However, clinical care environments for women with HIV do not currently provide consistent screening or referrals for trauma.

“The failure to systemically address the ongoing effects of lifetime trauma and violence may be the missing ingredient in improving care for women living with HIV,” said Brown, who has worked in two Part D programs in addition to her past experiences as a client.

Last September, the newly created White House Interagency Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities released a set of promising recommendations to break the cycle of trauma and HIV among women. Among them: additional research into the prevalence of violence and trauma, co-screening for intimate partner violence and HIV, and developing trauma-informed care and service models for women with HIV.

Advocates believe that federal support for these powerful recommendations and for closing gaps in the HIV care continuum, coupled with the proposed elimination of Part D, a federal source of women-focused HIV services, sends a dangerously conflicting message.

Last month, the 30 for 30 Campaign, a national coalition of organizations working to ensure that the needs of women are addressed in the national HIV response, held a meeting with HRSA officials to discuss the proposed changes to Ryan White Part D. Women living with HIV from throughout the nation attended the meeting to express their concerns. “How can women and youth living with HIV, and their providers, trust that Part C will be able to learn, and implement, the kind of care we’ve fought for more than 17 years for Part D to be able to provide for women and youth?” asked Linda Scruggs, who is living with HIV and is the former deputy director of AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth and Families.

At a critical moment when the Affordable Care Act is already changing health-care delivery for people living with HIV, the Ryan White Program needs to remain stable, not be taken apart. Professional associations of medical providers, including the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition and the HIV Medicine Association, have expressed grave concern about this change—and said so in a statement which outlined a number of reasons for keeping Ryan White still, and keeping Part D whole, at current levels while we as a community and a nation realize the full effects of ACA implementation.

The budget is not set in stone—it is still a proposal, and it still must get through Congress before it is approved. HRSA is asking for feedback at But no matter what happens to Part D, women with HIV will need more gender-sensitive, culturally relevant, and community-based care, not less. “Far too many women do not seek or will fall out of care simply because programming does not provide a comprehensive, welcoming environment free of judgment, and one that addresses their specific needs,” another Positive Women’s Network-USA member, Margot Kirkland-Isaac, wrote in a recent blog entry. These kinds of environments must become and remain the norm not just in Part D programs, but in all places where women living with HIV receive care.

The Principle of Awareness

Awareness undergirds excellence. This is true in all areas of endeavor. The principle of awareness calls for the leader to be aware of the elements that contribute to excellent performance and constantly measure his or her own performance against the standards of excellence he or she has set for themselves. Awareness is the keystone in the arch of leadership. Knock out the keystone, and the arch, which consists of leadership princples, come crashing down.

The leader is aware of his or her own leadership role. He or she knows they are in charge. They are aware of the impact and influence they have on other people’s lives. They enjoy the the privileges and bear the awesome responsibilities that go with giving direction to a group’s future.

The leader is aware of the meaning of leadership. Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exrting special influence within a group to move it toward goals of beneficial permanence that fulfill the group’s real needs. The leader knows each component of that meaning and how the components interact with each other.

The leader is aware of the principles of leadership:
1. The Principle of Vision
2. The Principle of Goal Setting
3. The Principle of Love
4. The Principle of Humility
5. The Principle of Self-Control
6. The Principle of Communication
7. The Principle of Investment
8. The Principle of Opportunity
9. The Principle of Energy
10. The Principle of Staying Power
11. The Principle of Authority
12. The Principle of Awareness

Adapted from Lead On, by John Edmund Haggai

AIDSWatch 2014

Washington D.C • April 28-29, 2014

Join us for the largest annual national constituent-based advocacy event focused on HIV and AIDS in the United States. A partnership of Treatment Access Expansion Project, AIDS United and the US People Living with HIV Caucus, AIDSWatch draws hundreds of HIV-positive advocates and their allies to Washington DC to educate Members of Congress and their staff about HIV/AIDS. All participants are provided with training on current science, legislative agendas, and conducting effective meetings with their elected representation.

Training will take place on Monday, April 28 at FHI 360 Conference Center, 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC
Meetings with Congressional offices will take place throughout the day on Tuesday, April 29, and will be scheduled by regional/state coordinators.

Services for Women are Not Disposable! PWN-USA Responds to the President’s Budget Proposal to Eliminate Ryan White Part D

Contact: Olivia Ford, / 510.333.4262

March 26, 2014, New Orleans, LA
Just a few weeks ago, President Obama’s budget for 2015 was released, proposing the elimination of Part D of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides family-centered medical care and supportive services to women, infants, children and youth (WICY) living with HIV. Positive Women’s Network – USA is deeply concerned about this proposal and demands to see the evidence that drove this decision. Within the Ryan White Program, and across the spectrum of care for people living with HIV, services and care designed to meet women’s needs are not disposable.

Part D-funded programs provide coordinated care and support services to women living with HIV who may be juggling caregiving responsibilities to family members and children. While not all women living with HIV are eligible to receive care through Part D, more than 90,000 WICY access Part D services each year, according to a recent report by the AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth and Families, which has criticized the proposed cuts. These programs are often entry points into care for underinsured women living with HIV — and for youth, the fastest growing population living with HIV in the U.S.

“As a woman living with HIV, it appears as if the unique, coordinated care and services provided by Part D programs are of little concern to the President and his Administration, when the reality is that these services are vital to our survival,” says Janet Kitchen, a member of PWN-USA who accessed case management and women’s health services through Part D early in her diagnosis, and now serves as a consumer quality advisor to a Part D program in Florida.

Under the President’s proposed 2015 budget, Ryan White Part C, which funds medical and early intervention services, would absorb Part D-allocated funds and receive a $4 million-dollar increase — but it’s unclear what portion of these dollars would fund services for WICY populations, and what range of services would be covered.

“There are usually specific gender-related experiences for women living with HIV that create unique barriers to accessing and remaining in care,” explains Susan Rodriguez, a woman living with HIV and founding director of SMART in New York City, which provides services to women and youth impacted by HIV. “These barriers are addressed in part through supportive services such as peer-based programming, transportation, housing, childcare, nutritional support and non-medical case management. These services are not extras — they are
essential for many women to be able to receive consistent, high-quality health care.”

Programs delivering these services to women through Part D are precisely those at risk of being cut under the proposed elimination. Professional associations of medical providers, including the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition and the HIV Medicine Association, have expressed grave concern about this change.

“Part D services helped me to save my life, and enabled me to be a leader in my community and a healthy mother to my children,” says Evany Turk, an Illinois-based PWN-USA member who works with University of Chicago’s Care 2 Prevent Program. Part D’s success in helping to drastically reduce rates of perinatal HIV transmission was made possible, in part, through coordinated care for pregnant women living with HIV and their families.

“When I was pregnant, a small agency funded by Part D sent a community worker to my home to help me learn how to take my meds so my baby would be free from HIV,” Turk recalls. “That same agency came out to help me give my baby HIV meds the first six weeks of his life to be certain he had no chance of contracting HIV. Eliminating these important Part D-funded outreach services will make it harder to retain women in care.”

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s HIV care continuum illustrates that only 41% of women living with HIV nationally are retained in care, 77% of female Ryan White Program clients stay in care, according to a recent report by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These successes must be maintained and expanded if the U.S. is to reach the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s goals of increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV.

At a critical moment when the Affordable Care Act is already changing health care delivery for people living with HIV, the Ryan White Program needs to remain stable, not be taken apart. To that end, the 30 for 30 Campaign — a coalition of leaders working to ensure that the unique needs of women are addressed in the national HIV response — sent a letter last week to Dr. Laura Cheever, associate administrator of HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau, requesting an explanation of the Administration’s rationale for the change, as well as the data which drove this decision.

“When I was pregnant and diagnosed with HIV, in 1991, there were no supportive services for women as well as their families,” says Margot Kirkland-Isaac, a Maryland-based PWN-USA member and past Part D program client. “I was admonished and advised to abort my daughter, and even threatened with the removal of my other children. Meanwhile, women in similar positions to mine would take the food they got from the food pantry for themselves and give it to their babies, and would literally starve to death. Twenty-three years later, we’re still fighting for the same thing.

“Far too many women do not seek or will fall out of care simply because programming does not provide a comprehensive, welcoming environment free of judgment, and one that addresses their specific needs,” says Kirkland-Isaac. These kinds of environments must become and remain the norm not just in Part D programs, but in all places where women living with HIV receive care.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day; March 10th, 2014

If I Were HIV+ … I’d Still Be Me:

Colorado Hosts National HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma Event

Eye-Catching T-Shirts Are Central Conversation-Starter in Community Education and Awareness Campaign

How would you complete the phrase “If I Were HIV+ …”?

An education campaign to challenge HIV-related stigma will return to Colorado Saturday March 8th through Monday March 10th.

The event, called “IF I WERE HIV+…”, uses eye-catching T-shirts as tools to spark community-wide discussion and action in honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10. As the HIV epidemic advances through its fourth decade, stigma and discrimination against HIV+ people persist as the greatest barriers to testing and treatment for the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. — and HIV activists cannot fight this stigma alone.

In 2014, women represent a larger share of new HIV infections compared to earlier in the epidemic. Today, at least 25% of HIV-positive people are women, which equals roughly 280,000 women currently living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 16% of women living with HIV don’t know it.

As HIV infection continues to affect approximately 1 out of every 139 American women, stigma and misconceptions about HIV persist. Those who report a personal connection with HIV+ people has decreased. 41% say they know someone who has AIDS, is HIV+ or has died of AIDS. This decrease creates additional challenges to acceptance of people living with HIV.  45% of those surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation state they would be uncomfortable having their food prepared by someone who is HIV+. One third of Americans surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation believe one of the following popular misconceptions about transmission is true: that they can be infected from sharing a glass (25%) , from a toilet seat (16%) or swimming in a pool with someone who is positive (12%).  We need to continue educating our nation and community about HIV.

To increase awareness, the Boulder County AIDS Project (BCAP) joins with Positive Women’s Network–United States of America (PWN-USA) and the Colorado regional group- PWN CO for the fifth annual “IF I WERE HIV+…” community awareness and education campaign. Activists and allies will go about their regular days sporting bright pink tee shirts emblazoned with the slogan “IF I WERE HIV+…” and the frank invitation: “LET’S TALK”. The campaign invites community members to step into the shoes of a person living with HIV, get informed, and ask themselves how they can be part of fighting stigma and improving the lives of women living with HIV.

There are 15,156 people estimated to be living with HIV in Colorado, 12% of whom are women. That percentage, which includes those who haven’t been diagnosed, adds up to about 1,819 individual women. That’s why the activists behind the campaign are looking to gather 181 allies to wear a campaign T-shirt leading up to National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — nearly twice the number that sported the shirts in 2013.

Each person wearing a T-shirt will represent 10 women living with HIV in our state — members of our communities whose experience with HIV is often invisible. Organizers look forward to the “aha moments” and conversations this boldly visual campaign will incite among community members and their families.

“Surprisingly, the most common reaction was for people to read the shirt, and look away,” commented a Kari Hartel, a past participant in the campaign. “Hopefully those who didn’t join us will take a moment to wonder, would it be so awful if someone thought I could be HIV+?”

Participating community members will share their stories, thoughts and photos during the day at our Facebook group  IF I WERE HIV+…  as they educate other community members about HIV risks, stigma and the experience of being HIV+. If you’d like to wear a T-shirt to help the campaign reach 181 participants.

If you are interested please send Barb an email at


I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!

I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!

By Gina Brown, Program Manager, AIDS United

“I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!” This is the 2014 theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is February 7th, 2014, was first observed in 1999, and since then, advocates, allies and people living with HIV/AIDS in the Black community have worked hard to be “Our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper”. We’ve organized, united, strategized, articulated and advocated for the need to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper, as we remain dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in the Black community.

HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect Black America. Currently, three in five Black Americans know someone living with or who has died from HIV/AIDS. Although we account for less than 14% of the U.S. population, Black America represented 44% of all new HIV infections in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Men who have sex with Men (MSM) remain the group most heavily affected by HIV, while young Black MSM continue to account for more than half of new infections among young MSM. The CDC reports a 21% decline in new HIV infections among women overall, however the new data shows that black women continue to be far more affected by HIV than women of other races/ethnicities. Of all the women living with HIV in the United States, approximately 66% are African American.

According to the Southern AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI), in 2010, 46% of all new diagnosis of HIV infection occurred in the South. Compared to other regions, a higher percentage of diagnoses in the South were among women (23.8%), Blacks/African Americans (57.2%). With numbers this high, it is crucial to expand Medicaid in the South, since Medicaid Expansion would allow greater access to care and treatment for HIV positive individuals.

What does it mean to be “Our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper?” One way this can be interpreted is that a sister or brother takes responsibility for the others behavior. It means taking care of them and not ignoring their problem, it also means being concerned with someone else besides you. You keep him or her from harm. As a woman living with HIV, the way I do my sisterly duty is by speaking for those women who have yet to find their voices. I take this charge seriously because I AM my Sister’s Keeper!

So looking forward, how do we take greater responsibility for one another in the Black community, as we recommit to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic? First, EVERY Black American must know his or her HIV status. Second, every person who tests HIV positive must have access and be linked to care, which helps to improve their health outcomes. Third, partners and allies must work to ensure that all groups and individuals who are challenged by social determinants work to keep the Black community within reach of access to opportunities that limit poverty and social exclusion. This focus is critical as we work together to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since its inception, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day provides a heightened opportunity for Black Americans to come together for education, testing, involvement and treatment, if necessary.

As our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper in the Black community, on this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we are dedicated to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America.

Living with HIV: One Woman’s Inspiring Story

Living with HIV: One Woman’s Inspiring Story

by Anna Dickens
December 16, 2013

In honor of AIDS Awareness Month in December, we spoke to HIV/AIDS activist Penny DeNoble, who takes a brave stand against the virus—and inspires others to do the same.

Read more:

World AIDS Day; December 1st, 2013

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Why is World AIDS Day important?

Around 1.5 million are currently living with HIV in the U.S. and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What should I do on World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons, click here to get started. If you’d like to see what other events are taking place — click here and find out more.

But what about after World AIDS Day?

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round. That’s why NAT has launched HIVaware — a fun, interactive website which provides all the information everyone should know about HIV. Why not use what you have learnt on World AIDS Day to Act Aware throughout the year and remember, you can fundraise at any time of year too — NAT is always here to give you suggestions and ideas.

Penny DeNoble and The Issue of Blood Outreach Recognized in POZ Magazine, as “POZ 100 Unsung Heroes”, November 2013 Edition

Planning Council and Community Members:
I am very honored to send out this email notice to recognize the work of our very own DHRPC member Penny DeNoble!

For this year’s POZ 100, we asked individuals and organizations like you to nominate an HIV-positive person in their community who is an unsung hero in the fight against AIDS. The individuals on this year’s list may not consider themselves to be heroes, but we do. Each person—in his or her own way—is taking a brave stand against the virus. They are fighting back. They do so, not because they’re seeking glory or accolades, but because fighting back is a means to their survival.

Congrats to Denver’s Penny DeNoble!!!!

Penny DeNoble
Founder and Director
The Issue of Blood
Denver, Colorado
Positive since 1986

Penny DeNoble has been an educator, community activist and HIV advocate for 15 years. Her organization, The Issue of Blood, is an outreach and consulting service that aims to bring awareness, education and information about the prevention of HIV and other STIs and unplanned pregnancies. She collaborates with other AIDS organizations in the Denver area, and she sits on the board of The Greater Denver Interfaith Initiative and is the vice-chair of the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council. Penny is a member of the 2020 Leading Women’s Society, The White House Project’s MAC AIDS Fund Advisory Committee, Positive Women’s Network, Treatment Advocacy Group and AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families. Her goal is to help HIV-positive women reach their communities through education, leadership development and advocacy.

On behalf of the DHRPC we want to thank you Penny for all the volunteer time and energy you have given, your contribution is invaluable.

Congratulations! In recognition for your work in the HIV community, you have been selected for the POZ 100!

Here’s a link to the article and full list on

Thank you again for all that you do. POZ is thrilled to be able to honor you and your work on the POZ 100 this year.

Kind regards,
POZ Staff