Archive for the 'women’s issues' Category


Pregnant Women in New Jersey must be tested for HIV

Washington Post reports that New Jersey this week launched one of the most ambitious efforts in the country to control mother-to-child transmission of HIV, making screening tests mandatory for all pregnant women in the state beginning next year.

A bill signed into law Wednesday by the Senate president, Richard J. Codey, in his capacity as acting governor, requires two tests for pregnant women, at the beginning of the pregnancy and again in the third trimester, unless the mother objects. If the mother objects, the objection will be noted and the newborn will then be tested for HIV, with the only exception being on religious grounds. Newborns will also be tested if the woman tests positive.

Just four other states have mandated testing for pregnant women, and three more– including New York — require screening of newborns. But New Jersey’s law appears to go further by requiring both.

The mandatory screening has raised privacy concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the state’s chapter of the National Organization for Women both questioned whether the mandated tests violate a woman’s right to privacy and the right to make her own medical decisions.

Riki E. Jacobs, executive director of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, a New Jersey nonprofit helping people living with AIDS, said the law is unnecessary and comes when the state should be focused on expanding care for pregnant women. “I am adamantly opposed to this bill. New Jersey already reduced the perinatal rate of transmission with mandatory counseling of pregnant women,” she said. “The issue is getting those women who are not in prenatal care in for services and testing.

“I definitely think it is an invasion of privacy,” Jacobs said. She said women choose to test their babies in 98 percent of cases, so the new law’s mandatory provisions for testing children are not needed: “The fact that we assume women won’t choose to test is ludicrous and wrong.” Continue reading ‘Pregnant Women in New Jersey must be tested for HIV’


HIV/Aids at Epidemic Levels in Wash DC, Afr Americans Impacted

I read the synopsis version of this article on the cover of the Washington Post Express this morning on the train…DAG.  It’s not a secret, just something people don’t want to admit is true.  I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.  1 in 20 have HIV…that is sub-saharan Africa level, huh?  This info is based on just a sample…I wonder what a real study would find? Here’s some info from the article.  Everyone should find themselves supporting a grassroots effort or event for World Aids Day 2007 on December 1!!!!  HIV/Aids is something that we all should address and own.

The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District, released today in a sweeping report, reveal “a modern epidemic” remarkable for its size, complexity and reach into all parts of the city.

The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV’s impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.

The 120-page report, which includes the city’s first AIDS update since 2000, shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population. HIV was spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District’s cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.

“It blows the stereotype out of the water,” said Shannon Hader, who became head of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration in October. Increases by sex, age and ward over the past six years underscore her blunt conclusion that “HIV is everybody’s disease here.”

The new numbers are a statistical snapshot, not an estimate of the prevalence of infection in the District, which is nearly 60 percent black.

Read the rest of this article – Washington Post


Requiring HIV tests for pregnant women reports that North Carolina is considering a moved that will require all pregnant women in their third trimester of pregnancy to be tested for HIV if they have not already been tested.  Newborns who are brought into medical facilities for whom HIV status is not known will also be tested under the proposed plan.

In South Africa researchers have called for a debate on mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and newborn children.  An article in the American Journal of Public Health by two former University of the Witwatersrand bioethicists says that between 11 000 and 15 000 babies could be protected against HIV each year if there were a 25% increase in the number of pregnant women tested for the virus.  Click here for more info.


UN warns of Thai housewife HIV/Aids crisis

Bangkok Post Reports: “International Aids campaigners have raised concern over a sharp increase in infections among Thai housewives, fearing the rise of new cases in this formerly low-risk group reflected the country’s complacency in tackling the epidemic. Deborah Landey, deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids), said the soaring infection rate among housewives was alarming and intervention programmes needed to be urgently scaled up to curb the spread.

…In Thailand, up to 40% of the 18,000 new cases found each year are housewives, which was previously identified as a low-risk group.

Most housewives contract the virus from their promiscuous husbands who have had casual sex.

The number was high compared to so-called high-risk groups, such as men having sex with men (28%) and sex workers (10%).

In response, Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla plans to promote a ”family condom” campaign to encourage married couples to stay monogamous.

An estimated 580,000 adults and children in Thailand were living with HIV at the end of 2005, according to UNAids.”


Vulnerable Women As Face of HIV/Aids

16 August 2007
Godwin Haruna

Women necessarily take the centre stage in any attempt at halting the spread of HIV/AIDS for obvious reasons. They are the most affected when issues of the pandemic manifest in public health. Perhaps, it is in view of this that the formation of Coalition of Women on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COWHAN) by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) becomes imperative as a meaningful strategy to stem the tide.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)’s executive director, Noeleen Heyer, declared in June 2001 that there is indeed a direct correlation between women’s low status, the violation of their human rights and HIV transmission. The reason that AIDS has escalated into a pandemic is because inequality between women and men continues to be pervasive and persistent. She asserts that the time has come for the AIDS community to join hands with the women’s community to hold governments accountable.

According to UNAIDS 2004 report on global AIDS pandemic, women and girls are more vulnerable and susceptible to HIV/AIDS infection than men. In sub-Saharan Africa, women are 30 per cent more likely to be infected than men and 15-24 year-old women are 3 times more likely to be infected than their male counterparts. Leaders across the world agree that women are more infected, more affected and bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic yet little progress has been made in the area of addressing the rights of women which has been affected with HIV/AIDS. [To read the rest of this article, click here. –]


Tyler Perry reflects on helping a homeless woman with AIDS

From Tyler Perry:
writer and actor

This morning I awoke and was so frustrated about all of the stuff that I’m dealing with in trying to get this studio open. I was about to open my mouth and start complaining when I remembered something that happened to me about a year ago.

I was walking to my car when this woman who appeared to be homeless started walking towards me. I’m ashamed to say this but I thought, “I don’t feel like being hustled today.” Then I got quickly convicted. I felt guilty so I started digging in my pocket for some money. As she got closer I noticed that she had the kindest eyes that I had ever seen. As I was reaching into my pocket she started to speak. I thought, “Here goes the sales pitch”. She said “Excuse me sir, I need some shoes. Can you help me?” My eyes filled with water because I remember being out on the streets a nd having only one pair of run over shoes. I was taken aback for a second.

I took her inside the studio and had my wardrobe people find shoes in her size. As she put the shoes on she started crying, praising God and thanking Jesus, and saying, “My feet are off the ground! My feet are off the ground!” Several of the wardrobe people started crying. I was crying. But I never forgot those words. “My feet are off the ground!” I thought, “Wow! All she wanted was some shoes.” She quickly disappeared and never asked me for a dime. I realized that I still had the money in my hand so I went out looking for her. She was gone just that quick so I looked all around the neighborhood for her. I found her standing on a corner looking down at her shoes, still crying. I was so touched. I asked her how she had gotten homeless. She told me that she had AIDS and that she was waiting to get into a shelter. She said that her family had turned their backs on her and that she had no place to go, bu t she knew that God would make a way for her. I said to myself, “He just did.” Her faith and her praise moved me. I took her to a nearby hotel and put her up until she was able to get on her feet. I had someone that worked for me to check on her from time to time and to make sure that she had food and clothes. After about a month or so we lost touch, but I never forgot her.

This past summer I was shooting “Daddy’s Little Girls” and this woman walks up to me smiling. I didn’t recognize her face, but her eyes were familiar. She had on a really nice dress and her hair was done. It was her! She told me that the little help that I had given her had changed her life. She was in a house now and doing very well.

I said all of that to say this. After I met this woman, every time I think about complaining and mumbling I remember, “My feet are off the ground!”

I wanted to share this with you just to let you know that when I say that I am thankful for you, I mean it. An d when I say that you are a blessing to me, I mean it. We take so much for granted sometimes that I just wanted all of you to know that I am grateful to God for you everyday. Thank you for being in my life.

~Tyler Perry


Microcredit program for HIV positive entrepreneurs in Thailand

Microlending gives hope to the HIV positive
A microcredit program created by Thailand’s ‘Mr. Condom’ allows the HIV positive to start businesses and earn a living.

By Robert Horn, Fortune | from
May 21 2007: 6:03 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) — When Narisara Panya’s husband died of AIDS seven years ago after returning to Thailand from a construction job abroad, it was devastating. With only a small plot of land that didn’t always yield enough food for their two children, 44-year-old Narisara – who became HIV positive herself – needed an income.

But because she was stigmatized in her community, even after starting antiretroviral therapy, no one would hire her. And no banks, or even loan sharks, would lend her money to start a business. “They were afraid of the illness and thought I would die before being able to pay them back,” she says.

An experiment in microcredit came to her rescue. With a 24,000 baht ($685) loan from a program called Positive Partnership, Narisara was able to set up a small business selling ginseng tonic and herbal supplements in roughly 100 neighboring villages.

Now she and her business partner earn 8,000 baht ($228) a month each, more than twice the average income in their village in northeastern Thailand. “My customers know I’m HIV positive,” Narisara says, but they don’t care. “They are surprised at how healthy I look.” – read the rest of this article at



From NotPerfectAtAll – A blog from an early 30s woman recently diagnosed with HIV

I’ve been neglecting the blog, the gym, my hair, reading, all because of work. But on the bright side, it’ll be over and done with somehow (but how?!) less than a month from now, not work itself of course but this immensly stressful period. I know I should go see P’s family again when I am there, find the time, bring them something. It will be harder now because of the heat, less hiding possiblities.

I have thrush. That sucks and maybe is too much information but since it impacts my mood I thought I would write it here. Today I have been working on the presentation, not trying it out, just writing the damn thing (‘think “I have the opportunity to do this”, “I get to do this”; change your terminology and that will change your attitude’) jogging and meditating, did a bit of yoga, and all the time on my mind is the performance anxiety from the upcoming weeks. Why the F should I care? Surely I have walked or been pushed through the flames so many times that standing up in front of 3 different audiences (in an ascending size order) shouldn’t impact me. But it does. I think if I had to stand in front of even a 1,000 people and talk about having HIV or my life or things that I am passoinate about and wish to convince of, I wouldn’t be that nervous, but the way things are I feel as though I am just participating in a phony game, the game of science. It’s as though I am a kid again and try to make it look as if I have been doing the work when I know that I have been slacking off. In a sense, my job is robbing me of my adulthood.

I can’t write more without exposing what it is that I do completely on the net, and though my profile’s had only 131 hits so far, some of which are mine (but who’s counting) and I read somewhere that in the US alone there are as many blogs as there are AIDS orphans in Africa, I have to be cautious. I just wish something would come out of all this, this, this… ordeal. I have a lust for life, especially since I don’t know how long it’ll be (but then again, who does?). I want to do something meaningful. I am bored. But nevertheless, I want to make a good impression… Oh when will I break out of the closet, not the HIV closet exactly, but the day that I will stop thinking about wearing sleeves in public and positioning my arms hairy side up is the day that I will be free… or maybe just the day that I put pen to paper. I know I am happy now… P makes me very, extremely, outrageously happy with his cuddles and criossants and Nutella and sweet love. I don’t even mind his snoring much… I just drag myself out of bed and work and sleep during the day instead. I have a nifty new bike and I ride it around like a 10 year old boy (the one P bought me was vandalized). I am going home in April, to Venice in May. I am chubbier that I’d like and tatooed and scarred but making some kind of small reputation at work, I guess, no that is too stressful, don’t want to think about that. Being an outsider and a loner is tough, but I am used to it. I sometimes forget that I have HIV, that’s the advantage, because I am so used to piling up secrets in layers of discretion, and the most ironic thing is none of them, no amount of pain and bad sex and self destruction led to my infection. There has to be a lesson here somewhere. Just cos someone is paranoid it don’t mean they’re not being followed; just cos I was a – what exactly?- it doesn’t mean that I can’t get HIV through medical negligence. And I don’t have to pretend to be pure, cos I am not, and I don’t need to be a well-rounded, sense-making character, cos God didn’t set the scene for me that way. What I do need is to get my head out of my own butt and look at others and their real, or fictional, problems. And that is what makes me happiest. Being on the margins of involvement.


Lifeboat: A Woman’s Guide to HIV-Positive Motherhood

Andrea Lynch, RH Reality Check, Nicaragua & England on February 26, 2007 – 8:50am

Published under: |

There are 19 million women worldwide currently living with HIV/AIDS, but living with HIV is just one aspect of these women’s lives. Reproductive rights organizations like Ipas and HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations like the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS have been working for years to raise awareness of the complexity of HIV-positive women’s sexual and reproductive realities, and a new project called Lifeboat offers a unique space to challenge stereotypes about HIV-positive women’s lives. Specifically, Lifeboat seeks to shed light on the reality of HIV-positive motherhood, using film to present compelling, complex images of mothers living with HIV/AIDS.

According to UNAIDS, of the 200 million women who become pregnant every year, roughly 2.5 million are HIV-positive. In some countries in southern Africa, where the pandemic is most widespread, over a third of pregnant women are living with HIV/AIDS. Across the developing world, HIV-positive women—like all women—struggle to find dignity amidst pervasive violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. And despite strong anti-discrimination laws and decades of awareness-raising, here in the United States, HIV-positive pregnant women continue to face discrimination within the health system, as Scott Swenson reported earlier this month.

The obstacles to achieving health, dignity, and well-being faced by HIV-positive women worldwide are formidable to say the least, but that is only part of these women’s stories. All over the world, HIV-positive women continue to grow, live, and contribute to their communities and their families. By sharing these women’s stories through short films, Lifeboat seeks to shatter the stigma and the stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS, sex, pregnancy, and motherhood, focusing instead on “the human experiences of wanting, having, loving, and raising children in a positive home.” For example, “Lullaby” features two teenagers talking about the loving, happy childhood that their HIV-positive mother has given them. “True Love” focuses on a Nigerian couple coming to grips with the knowledge that they are both HIV-positive, and that they are expecting a child. Both films have been screened at numerous conferences on HIV/AIDS, as well as in communities and healthcare settings. They will soon be available online. For more information, visit Lifeboat.